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Independents' Day

Pharmacists to overule GPs on branded prescriptions

By Nigel Praities

Pharmacists will be able to overrule the drugs prescribed by GPs and substitute a generic medicine under the new deal struck by the Government over drug pricing.

The deal with the pharmaceutical industry includes the introduction of generic substitution by pharmacists from January 2010, forcing GPs to tick a box to prevent pharmacists from replacing a branded medicine with a generic alternative.

The Government says certain exemptions to the scheme ‘on clinical grounds' will be agreed, but it hopes to save 5% on the drugs bill each year by substituting generics and adjusting drug prices with manufacturers.

The deal also includes a cut in the cost of drugs to the NHS of 3.9% from February 2009 and more flexible pricing arrangements where pharmaceutical companies can supply drugs to the NHS at lower prices initially.

Health Secretary Alan Johnson said on the release of the deal: ‘A more flexible approach to pricing is in everyone's interest. It gets clinically and cost effective drugs to more patients - providing cheaper options where clinically appropriate - delivers value for money for the NHS and the tax payer, and creates a better market for the pharmaceutical industry while supporting research and innovation,' he said.

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