Parliament: The House In Brief - Medicine shortages cost NHS pounds 160m

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The Independent Online
THE NATIONAL Health Service has been forced to spend pounds 160m more on drugs this year because of shortages of "generic" medicines - cheaper versions of branded treatments - the health minister of state John Denham said in a Commons written reply.

But the service was able to cope with such pressures, he added. The Health Department said the increase on the NHS's pounds 4.7bn-a-year drug budget would be offset by projected savings of pounds 150m from changes to the rules on purchase of non-generic drugs.

Those changes were introduced in October, and in August ministers asked the Office of Fair Trading to look at whether the "current situation raises any competition issues", Mr Denham said.

The Government had also set up a "fundamental review of the current arrangements to see whether there are alternative ways of supplying the NHS with generics which would better ensure consistency of supply at reasonable prices".