UK Government

Department of Health (National): No plans to implement generic substitution of medicines

Press Release   •   Oct 15, 2010 12:44 BST

The Government has decided not to progress with plans for the generic substitution of medicines in primary care, Health Minister Lord Howe announced today.

Following a full public consultation the Government today published its response which outlines the reasons why proposals which would have allowed dispensers to replace branded drugs for generic versions when dispensing a prescription will now not be implemented in England.

Doctors and other frontline health professionals have always based their prescribing decisions on individual assessments of their patients’ clinical circumstances and will continue to do so. Prescribers are free to prescribe branded or generic medicines, and nearly 85 per cent of prescriptions written for patients are already for generic medicines.

The further use of generic medicines may still provide valuable savings and the Department of Health is instead building on existing initiatives as well as looking at other ways of supporting the use of generic medicines where it is appropriate and safe and does not add extra burdens for healthcare professionals.

Health Minister, Lord Howe said:

“We know that there are valuable savings to be made from the use of generic medicines where it is clinically appropriate. However, we believe that national plans to enforce generic substitution in primary care are too prescriptive.

“We have listened to the concerns from the public, patients and other interested parties about legislative proposals to enable pharmacists to replace a branded medicine with a generic medicine. It is also not clear whether the proposals would have provided substantial benefit to the NHS, compared to the efforts of frontline staff to implement them. This is why we have decided not to progress with national implementation.

“We want patients to get the drugs their doctors recommend at the best price for the taxpayer. Patients should be reassured that we are looking at more appropriate ways of supporting the use of generic medicines and, in the long term, value-based pricing will help to ensure we pay a price for drugs which better reflects their value.”

Notes to Editors:

1. The response to the consultation on proposals to implement generic substitution in primary care can be found at:
http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Consultations/Responsestoconsultations/DH_120431

2. The White Paper Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS, was published on 12 July 2010 and set out the Government’s vision for the future of the NHS.
http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_117353

3. For media enquiries please contact the Department of Health press office on 020 7210 5221.

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