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Record rise in GP generic prescribing

By Nigel Praities

The annual rise in the drugs bill slowed last year - reflecting a record shift towards generic prescribing in primary care, figures from the NHS Information Centre reveal.

The figures show the net ingredient cost of all prescriptions dispensed in the community increased by 2.1% to £8.37 billion in 2007, a drop from the 3.3 % increase recorded in the previous year.

Pressure on GPs to give patients cheaper drugs continued to drive up the proportion of generic drugs prescribed, with the proportion of generics rising from 81.8% to a record 82.6% last year.

Pulse revealed in January that most PCTs had drug switching schemes in place, with nearly 90% saying they actively encouraged GPs to prescribe generic statins, ACE inhibitors and proton-pump inhibitors.

These schemes seem to have borne fruit for the Government, with the net ingredient cost of drugs for the gastro-intestinal system falling by 15.1% last year and the cardiovascular system by 3.8%.

Anti-diabetes drugs replaced lipid-lowering as the drug group with the highest net ingredient cost, with a 6% increase last year. This compared with a 4.6% drop in the cost of statins and other lipid lowering drugs last year.

Dr Brian Dunn, GPC prescribing spokesperson, said the report showed GP prescribed was more efficient than ever before.

‘This report shows that GP prescribing is very high quality, with more generics prescribed. GPs should be congratulated on this,' he said.

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