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Government plans on generics 'pose safety risk'

By Nigel Praities

A group of doctors has warned Government plans for automatic generic substitution by pharmacists could risk patient safety, in a report published this week.

The report warns the plans for pharmacists to routinely dispense generic treatments, unless GPs tick a box on the prescription, were likely to lead to worse outcomes and higher healthcare costs.

Pulse revealed GPs had concerns over the safety of plans for automatic generic substitution last year, after the Department of Health announced the change would be allowed from January 2010.

This new report – authored by representatives from the Primary Care Dermatology Society, the European Parkinson's Disease Society and the patient society CancerBACUP – says the plans will confuse patients and result in reduced adherence.

‘By considering automatic generic substitution, we not only run the risk of losing sight of the people who matter, the patients, but also increasing healthcare costs through poorer outcomes.

‘The tick?box might not provide a viable safety net for conditions, medications or patient groups outside of any official exemption list,' the report reads.

The report – funded by the pharmaceutical company Norgine – goes on to conclude that generic substitution should only be allowed to take place if doctors agree.

‘The potential for adverse events and under?treatment makes it unwise for generic substitution to be allowed to take place without the full awareness and involvement of the prescribing doctor or nurse,' it reads.

The report comes as health minister Mike O'Brien revealed in an answer to a parliamentary question about epilepsy treatments that he had been approached by a number of patient groups who were concerned over the generic substitution plans.

'A number of patient representative groups, such as those representing epilepsy sufferers, have written to the Department expressing their concerns on the implementation of generic substitution.

'Whilst we have not yet met with any such groups, nor with clinicians operating in the field of epilepsy, we want to make sure we engage with all stakeholders in the best way possible and are currently considering how best to do so,' he said.

Automatic Generic Substitution – Clinical implications for patients Read the full report

To read the full report, click here: link

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