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At the heart of general practice since 1960

When poor old GPs should not take the self-flagellation route

I was disappointed to see the prominence given to the assertion

by the RCGP that the pharmaceutical industry is 'bringing the NHS to financial collapse' (News, August 23).

Nothing could be further from the truth. The whole medicines bill represents only 12 per cent of the total cost of the NHS and, while it has grown by 10 per cent in the last 12 months, the majority of this is driven by growth in generic unpromoted medicines.

In reality, patented medicines grew by only 4 per cent, of which about a quarter is driven by the Government's own push to adopt NSFs and NICE guidance.

Britain remains one of the slowest adopters of new medicines in the developed world. Rather than accusing the pharmaceutical industry of inventing new diseases, the college would do well to examine whether its members' prescribing habits are designed to optimise patient care or institute managerial policy.

In a world increasingly dominated by the internet with an exponential increase in health care information and disinformation available at the stroke of a key, the RCGP should be working together with all those who have valid information on medicines to ensure patients and carers have access to high-quality data whatever its source.

The pharmaceutical industry

has a rigorously enforced code of practice on these issues and

does not indulge in direct-to-consumer advertising, which is

illegal in the UK.

Dr John Patterson

Immediate Past-President, ABPI

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