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MP acts over GPs' prescribing costs

GPs are basing prescribing decisions on out-of-date pricing information because the Government is too slow to react to falling drug costs, an MP has warned.

Liberal Democrat John Hemming calculated the NHS has wasted £500 million by overpaying for just three drugs ­ simvastatin, amlodipine and lisinopril.

The artificially high prices may have distorted GP decisions over which drug to prescribe and rendered NICE economic analyses out of date.

Between 2002 and 2005, the Government overspend on simvastatin alone was £383 million, with the drug tariff up to 10 times higher than the underlying drug cost.

Mr Hemming, MP for Birmingham Yardley, said the Department of Health was too slow to react to drops in drug prices and seemed 'uninterested' in saving money.

'I'm certainly having a row with NICE at the moment over its economic model. There's no sense in making decisions based on incorrect figures.'

Dr John Ashcroft, a GP in Tibshelf, Derbyshire, with an interest in the economics of drug costs, said the slow reaction of the Government was 'distorting prescribing', despite a £300 million Government clawback of profit from pharmacists.

'This is a huge problem because it alters the behaviour of doctors, PCTs and NICE.'

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