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CCG spends £40k on drugs that could have been bought over-the-counter

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28 February 2018

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Around £400,000 has been spent on medicines that could have been purchased over the counter (OTC), a Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has reported.

In the last six months, nearly £400,000 has been spent on drugs that could have been bought OTC in Medway.

Chief nurse at Medway CCG Sarah Vaux said that ‘to do the best for patients and for taxpayers, it’s vital the NHS uses its funding well’.

Cost of drugs

Around £400,000 has been spent on medicines that could have been purchased over the counter (OTC), a Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has reported.

In the last six months, nearly £400,000 has been spent on drugs that could have been bought OTC in Medway.

Chief nurse at Medway CCG Sarah Vaux said that ‘to do the best for patients and for taxpayers, it’s vital the NHS uses its funding well’.

Cost of drugs

The NHS spends around £16bn a year on drugs, of which about £9bn comes from GP prescriptions.

In the year prior to June 2017, £569m was spent on prescriptions for medicines that could have been otherwise purchased OTC from a pharmacy or others outlets such as supermarkets.

The NHS argued that some items that can be purchased OTC are sometimes at a lower price than that which would be incurred by the NHS. On average, common tablets including paracetamol are four times more expensive when provided on prescription.

For example, a pack of 12 anti-sickness tablets cost £2.18 from a pharmacy whereas the cost to the NHS is over £3 – after including dispensing fees – and over £35 when GP consultation and other administration costs are taken into account.

Minor conditions

Current prescribed OTC products include cough mixture and cold treatments, eye drops and laxatives among others, which are minor conditions.

Ms Vaux said that ‘in many cases, self-care is actually more efficient as patients don’t have to wait for a GP appointment and then a prescription.

She added: ‘They can simply talk to their pharmacist and purchase the most appropriate treatment over-the-counter.’

The CCG said that if patients were to self-care for dandruff, indigestion and mouth ulcers alone, the NHS would save £17.5m, which could be reinvested in treatments for major conditions such as cancer and mental health issues.

An ongoing consultation was launched in December 2017 on reducing prescribing of OTC medicines for 33 minor, short-term health concerns.

The consultation runs until 14 March.

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