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09-08-2010 | General practice | Article

GPs advised to cut prescribing costs


National Prescribing Centre: Key Therapeutic Topics 2010/2011 – Medicines management options for local implementation

GPs are being advised to cut back on prescribing common medications under recommendations drawn up by National Health Service prescribing advisers.

The fifteen targets for more considered prescribing include statins and ezetimibe for cholesterol lowering, broad spectrum antibiotics, orlistat for obesity and long-acting insulin analogues.

The recommendations have been put together by the National Prescribing Centre (NPC) and are already being circulated among Primary Care Trusts, with a view to issuing a fuller report later in the year.

In some cases the report says the advice is calling for closer adherence to National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance, although it also warns against "over-implementation" of NICE recommendations, in particular with respect to ezetimibe.

Director of Evidence-based Therapeutics at the NPC, Dr Neil Maskrey, said the report "identifies some key therapeutic medicines management options for local implementation".

He emphasised that while the purpose is to save costs, the key areas identified were all evidence-based, ensuring "that safety and clinical effectiveness would be maintained, or in some cases improved, if they were incorporated into prescribing practice with less variation than at present."

Peter Rowe, in charge of the Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention programme at the Department of Health asserted that while some of the topics would improve quality but have little or no associated cost savings, others could deliver small savings that when considered at a national level "become very significant".

GP News is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Caroline Price