Generics reduce England’s drug spending Posted 17/08/2012

According to a new report from the National Health Service in England, published on 31 July 2012, despite a 3.8% increase in the number of prescriptions dispensed in 2011 compared to 2010, spending on pharmaceuticals has decreased by 0.3%.

The number of prescription items increased by 34.9 million from 926.7 million in 2010 to 961.5 million in 2011. This represents an increase of 3.8% in 2011 compared to 2010 and an increase of 63.8% (374.5 million items) compared to 2001.

Between 2001 and 2011, the net ingredient cost of prescription items dispensed fell by GBP 29.3 million (0.3%) to GBP 8,805.1 million.

In 2011, the average number of prescriptions dispensed per head of population increased to 18.3 compared to 17.7 items in 2010, representing a 2.9% increase. However, despite this increase the average cost per head of population fell from GBP 169.13 in 2010 to GBP 167.22 in 2011, representing a fall of 1.1%. The average net ingredient cost per prescription item has fallen from GBP 9.53 in 2010 to GBP 9.16 in 2011. This is the seventh year that England has seen such a reduction.

Most of the savings are attributed to increased generics use by patients due to generic versions of some drugs becoming available. In 2011, generics accounted for 68.9% of all prescription items compared to 67.4% in 2010. Generics represented 29.8% of the total drug spending in England in 2011 compared to 29.6% in 2010. This represents a huge increase in the use of generics compared to in 2001, when generics accounted for 52.2% of prescription items, but only 17.8% of the cost.

The generic drugs attributed with contributing to the fall in costs include proton-pump inhibitor, esomeprazole; hormone antagonist, anastrazole; transplant-rejection treatment mycophenolate and glaucoma treatments dorzolamide with timolol and brimonidine tartrate.

The drug with the greatest increase in the number of items dispensed (2.6 million items) was omeprazole.

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Source: NHS

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