Plea To Doctors Over Cheaper Drugs

The Government has repeated its plea to doctors to save the NHS millions in the coming year by prescribing cheaper drugs. Figures show that the NHS could save £85 million a year if GPs prescribed cheaper cholesterol-busting statins

Costings from the Department of Health reveal that a 28-day course of generic statins cost between £1.89 and £4.57, with the top end course being £26.42. Meanwhile, branded alternatives cost between £18.03 and £29.69 for a 28-day course.

The Department said statin prescribing had increased by over 150% in the last five years and costs the NHS around £600m in 2005.

If every primary care trust prescribed two generic statins, pravastatin and simvastatin, in 69% of all cases, then more than £84.7m a year could be saved, it said.

In June, doctors argued that the NHS could save more than £2 billion over the next five years if doctors switched to cheaper statins.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, they noted that the new guidelines recommend that 5.2 million (14% of the adult population) should be taking statins – which will cost an extra £250 million a year.

They said using simvastatin for the 1.6 million new prescriptions would save £950 million over five years.

Also, switching the one million patients currently on branded atorvastatin to simvastatin “should have no effect on health” and would save an extra £1.1 billion over the next five years, they added.