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UK health secretary calls for drug prices on medicine bottles

Jeremy Hunt has introduced the measure to help reduce wastage

Pharmacist  

The UK's health secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced new plans to publish the price of certain drugs to help stop patients wasting medicines. 

In a speech to the Local Government Association annual conference, Hunt said: “People who use our services need to know that in the end they pay the price for this waste.

“So…I can announce that we intend to publish the indicative medicine costs to the NHS on the packs of all medicines costing more than £20, which will also be marked 'funded by the UK taxpayer'. 

“This will not just reduce waste by reminding people of the cost of medicine, but also improve patient care by boosting adherence to drug regimes. I will start the processes to make this happen this year, with an aim to implement it next year.”

This comes as data shows that medicines wastage in the UK costs the taxpayer around £300m a year.

But some doctor groups have argued that this may not be effectual as many patients do not take their medicines for health reasons, rather than deliberately not using them.

This can include Alzheimer's patients and their carers, who struggle to take their full dose of medicines, patients with mental health disorders such as schizophrenia and bio polar disorder, and those who suffer from sever side effects from some drug treatments.

New evidence also estimates that the average patient in their 90s has to take around 10 medicines a day, which can lead to confusion and missed doses because of the sheer number of drugs involved. 

Neal Patel, from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said: "We know that around 30 to 50% of patients don't use their medicines as intended.

“Although knowledge of the cost of medicines may play a part its equally important we focus on factors such as peoples understanding of the side effects and benefits from medicines, which will also influence whether a condition is treated effectively or the medicine ends up in the bin.”

NHS Confederation chief executive Rob Webster added: “It is important for the public to be better informed about how money is spent in the NHS.

“We will be interested in seeing more detail about how the labelling policy will be implemented.”

The total drugs budget, when administration costs are factored in, is £15bn, according to latest figures from the HSCIC NHS drug prescription service. 

Article by
Ben Adams

2nd July 2015

From: Healthcare

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