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NHS 'will not pursue generic medicine policy'

14th October 2010

The coalition government has scrapped plans for the NHS in England to substitute branded medicines with generic versions in primary care.

After conducting a public consultation, health minister Lord Howe concluded that a nationwide policy to enforce generic substitution would be 'too prescriptive'.

He added that the use of such medicines can allow the NHS to make significant savings, but claimed these may not offset the cost of rolling out a national rule requiring pharmacists to replace branded drugs with generic products.

However, the Department of Health noted that almost 85 per cent of prescriptions are currently for generic medicines and said the new guidelines will not prevent doctors from issuing them when it is appropriate for patients.

Lord Lowe commented: 'We want patients to get the drugs their doctors recommend at the best price for the taxpayer. Patients should be reassured that we are looking at more appropriate ways of supporting the use of generic medicines.'

The government also announced the reform of 40 health-related public bodies to increase accountability and reduce costs, with several - including the Health Protection Agency and the Appointments Commission - to be abolished.
 

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