Not only do doctors in the UK already prescribe fewer medicines than most of their counterparts abroad, but they also prescribe more generics, with well over 50 per cent of prescriptions now written generically. It is not true that the NHS pays more than any other country for medicines. Of 15 OECD countries, Britain is 14th in terms of expenditure on medicines per head, just above Ireland.
Over the past 40 years, advances in the use of medicines have helped to free up hospital beds by reducing the number of admissions by half for 12 major disease areas alone. The resulting annual saving of about pounds 10bn is double the cost of all NHS medicines.
While measures to restrict the availability of medicines might yield short-term savings, in the long term they will drive up costs in other sectors of healthcare, such as hospital surgery and community care. Medicines are part of the answer to the NHS's funding problems, not the cause.
Professor TREVOR M JONES
The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry
London SW1Reuse content