Quest for secrets of bathroom cabinets

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Indy Politics
DR BRIAN Mawhinney, the Minister for Health, is planning to dive into the nation's bathroom cabinets in an attempt to cut the national drug bill, writes Nicholas Timmins.

He told MPs yesterday: 'The nation's bathroom cabinets are stuffed full of drugs.' But he had been amazed to discover that no previous health minister had asked 'what's in those cabinets and why it is there?'

When the question was asked, he said: 'You come up against a brick wall - nobody knows. Until you know what drugs are not being taken, it is impossible to know why they are not being taken.'

The health minister is hoping that a detailed analysis of what is left unused in bathroom cabinets will provide better guidance for doctors on what they should and should not be prescribing.

What was in bathroom cabinets was 'a major question which ought to be attracting more attention than it has been doing', he said, adding that he would be announcing 'shortly' how he intended to pursue the issue.

He is also considering a new drive against prescription fraud, where people who are not entitled to them claim free prescriptions. The Department of Health said few pharmacists seem to require proof when patients tick boxes on the back of prescription forms stating that they are in a category entitled to free prescriptions.