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Generic Medicines

Volume 516: debated on Thursday 14 October 2010

I am today publishing the Government’s response to the consultation on the proposals to implement generic substitution of medicines in primary care. Alongside it a report of the analysis of responses is also published.

The pharmaceutical price regulation scheme 2009 committed to the introduction of generic substitution in primary care in the national health service, subject to discussion with affected parties. Further to discussions with, and views expressed by, stakeholders during 2009, the Department undertook a public consultation on proposals to implement generic substitution in primary care between 5 January and 30 March 2010, consulting on three options, including non-implementation.

In total, 423 organisations and individuals submitted written responses. In addition, 107 delegates attended Department of Health listening events, and their comments were recorded as part of the consultation.

Greenstreet Berman, an independent social research company, was appointed to analyse the responses on behalf of the Department following a competitive tender process run by the Central Office of Information.

The analysis of responses showed no clear consensus with regards to a preferred option going forward. Three key points were apparent:

there was a strongly held perception by respondents that generic substitution posed a threat to patient safety. If the proposals were to be implemented, these concerns would arise in the front-line delivery of NHS services, impacting on the work load of health care professionals;

the position on the cost-effectiveness of generic substitution implementation is inconclusive. There is a strong sense that the effort involved in implementing a formal generic substitution scheme was simply too great for the potential gain; and

other, less nationally prescriptive mechanisms for further supporting the use of generic medicines can be explored.

The coalition Government intend to stand by the 2009 PPRS agreement, which expires at the end of 2013. However, in the light of the public consultation findings, the Department will not be progressing any further the implementation of generic substitution. Instead, the Department will be looking at further ways to support the use of generic medicines in a way that is acceptable to patients, recognising that there are still some savings that can potentially be delivered in this area.

Further details can be found at:

Copies of both the Government response to the consultation and the analysis of responses report have been placed in the Library and copies are available for hon. Members from the Vote office.