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Prescriptions (Drugs)

Volume 127: debated on Thursday 11 February 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what he estimates would be the cost to the National Health Service if hospital doctors prescribed brand name drugs, after the patent period had expired, rather than generic drugs.

Substitution of generic equivalents for brand name drugs is common practice in National Health Service hospitals. Where a generic equivalent is available hospital pharmacists and doctors carefully evaluate its suitability for use instead of the brand name product.Figures for the increased costs which health authorities would incur if brand name drugs were used exclusively are not held centrally.

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what he estimates would be the saving to the National Health Service if all general practitioners prescribed generic drugs rather than brand name drugs, after the patent period.

It is estimated that if all general practitioners were to prescribe drugs generically the savings, assuming no change to prescribing patterns or mix or cost of drugs, would be in the region of £35 million in England.

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what evidence he has that general practitioners are increasingly prescribing generic drugs rather than brand name drugs, after the patent period.

Statistics derived from prescriptions for drugs dispensed by community pharmacists show that the percentage of prescriptions written and dispensed generically in England has risen from 15 per cent. in 1976 to 28 per cent. in 1986.