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Government to consult on generic substitution plans

By Nigel Praities

The Government is planning to hold a formal consultation on controversial plans for automatic generic substitution in pharmacies.

The proposal to allow pharmacists to routinely dispense generic treatments, even when GPs specify a branded product, has led to warnings patient safety could be compromised.

Under the planned changes, GPs would have to tick a box on the prescription to prevent pharmacists from replacing a proprietary medicine with a generic alternative, although 'adjustments' are planned to this if too many branded products are requested.

Generic substitution was due to begin from January 2010 as part of a drug pricing deal with the pharmaceutical industry, but the Government has now said it plans to hold a consultation on the issue later this year.

A report published last month from a number of prominent doctors and patient groups warned the plans were likely to lead to worse outcomes and higher healthcare costs.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘The 2009 Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme ensures that we have fair prices that give value for money to the taxpayer and a fair return for industry and the implementation of generic substitution in England forms an integral part of this.

‘This a complex issue with many interested stakeholders. We want to make sure we engage with all stakeholders in the best way possible and we therefore intend to formally consult in the autumn on our proposals for implementation.'

‘How we implement generic substitution, and to what timetable, will be influenced by the outcome of this consultation process,' he said.

Under the generic substitution plans, GPs would have to tick a box on the prescription to prevent pharmacists from replacing a proprietary medicine with a generic alternative Under the generic substitution plans, GPs would have to tick a box on the prescription to prevent pharmacists from replacing a proprietary medicine with a generic alternative

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