Patients will be told the price of every drug they are prescribed that costs the NHS more than £20 in a scheme to help reduce waste and encourage patients to complete courses of medicine.
Under the plans, drug packets will be marked with a label stating that they have been “funded by the UK taxpayer” along with the total price that the prescription costs the health service.
The move aims to give patients a more accurate picture of the costs of illness to the NHS and encourage people to take responsibility for their health.
It follows a study, commissioned by the Government, which found that wasted medicines cost the NHS £300m a year.
This represents around £1 in every £25 spent on drugs in primary care and 0.3 per cent of total NHS outlays. The figure includes around £9m worth of unused prescription medicines that are left in people’s homes, £110m returned to community pharmacies over the course of a year, and £50m worth of NHS supplied medicines disposed of unused by care homes.
Officials believe the new labelling will help to reduce this waste by reminding people of the cost of medicine, but also, crucially, improve patients’ likelihood to stick to drug regimes. The Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, has been warning about the “catastrophic threat” to modern medicine posed by antibiotic resistance caused by patients who not finish their courses.
In a speech, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the savings would be nearly £1bn and that could be used for more treatments or the latest drugs. “There is no such thing as a free health service: everything we are proud of in the NHS is funded by taxpayers and every penny we waste costs patients more through higher taxes or reduced services.”
Rob Webster, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation, that represents health service managers, welcomed the initiative. “It is refreshing to see a genuine focus from the Secretary of State on prevention, public health and changing the relationship between people and services.”Reuse content