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DH targets a further 5% rise in generic scripts

By Lilian Anekwe

The Department of Health believes generic substitution by pharmacists can drive up generic use by as much as five percentage points, Pulse has learned.

The DH's community pharmacy policy team revealed the results of their modelling studies at an official listening event on the generic substitution proposals.

The team suggested that generic prescribing rates – currently at 83% - could be boosted to 88% under the policy, and that this was the ‘main driver'.

Under the plans set out in January, pharmacists will be encouraged to routinely switch drugs prescribed by a GP to a generic, unless the GP specifies otherwise, which the DH claims the scheme could save the NHS £41m a year.

A spokesperson for the DH said: ‘Even though GPs do have a very high rate of generic prescribing, there's still more to be gained, and we think an additional 5% of all drugs could have been prescribed and dispensed as a generics.'

Dr Bill Beeby, a GP in Middlesbrough and chair of the GPC's clinical and prescribing sub-committee, said the claim was ‘full of inefficiencies and flaws and insulting to the professionalism of GPs.'

‘I have no idea where that 5% figure came from. They have not shared any of their data so they can't expect us to be supportive. Because of the high volume involved increasing the use of generics probably will generate cost savings.

‘But that ignores the reason why some patients are not being prescribed a generic – because there's a genuine clinical need.'

Pharmacists will be encouraged to routinely switch drugs prescribed by a GP to a generic


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