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Pharmacists and GPs fight generics plan

By Lilian Anekwe

GP and pharmacist leaders have formed a rare professional coalition and both attacked the Department of Health's proposals on generic drug substitution.

The DH consultation closed last month, and in its response the BMA released a comprehensive deconstruction of the plans, expressing ‘serious concerns'.

And in a surprise move, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSBG) also condemned the plans, saying they were a ‘short term fix, not a long term solution'.

The BMA said savings would be better achieved though continuing to push generic prescribing through incentive schemes, and that it had ethical and legal concerns.

‘Patients could experience side-effects or withdrawal symptoms because their drugs are substituted for others not sufficiently bioequivalent. If a patient has an adverse reaction to a drug which has been generically substituted, could he or she sue the prescriber for changing the brand? This must be clarified', the response stated.

GP leaders also warned ‘unscrupulous' pharmacists could seek to profit financially from any new arrangements.

‘We have concerns that it would be possible for unscrupulous pharmacists to benefit from the large mark-up between cost and resale price of certain generics, which is often greater than for branded drugs. Pharmaceutical companies could provide incentives for pharmacists to substitute their generic products.'

The RPSBG refused to back any of the Government's proposed options for generic drug substitution, saying it feared the ‘operationally extremely complex' proposals could damage professional relationships between GPs and pharmacists.

‘There are concerns about liability and the potential for misconduct and fraud because of communication failure between healthcare professionals.'

Pharmacists and GPs fight generics plan

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