GPs hold key to £24m savings

PUBLISHED: 12:55 26 October 2006 | UPDATED: 11:06 06 May 2010

DOCTORS in the east of England could save the NHS nearly £24m a year by switching patients to non-branded drugs. Patients with an increased risk of heart disease, a stroke or a high cholesterol level currently receive one of a range of drugs – called stat

DOCTORS in the east of England could save the NHS nearly £24m a year by switching patients to non-branded drugs.

Patients with an increased risk of heart disease, a stroke or a high cholesterol level currently receive one of a range of drugs - called statins - to tackle their condition.

But the East of England Strategic Health Authority wants to increase the use of one particular type of statin - Simvastatin - to save a potential £23.8m a year.

Simvastatin is around six times cheaper than branded statins and several studies have proved it to be just as effective.

The East of England SHA is aiming for 80 per cent of all patients receiving prescriptions for statins to be switched to this version.

Dr Paul Watson, East of England SHA's director of commissioning, said: "By encouraging GPs to make the switch we expect to make significant savings, increase value for money and release much needed resources to other areas of the health service - all of which will benefit patients in the long term."

A spokesman for East and North Hertfordshire Primary Care Trust said: "We have been working closely with GPs, hospital clinicians and the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Cardiac Network to encourage the use of generic statins where clinically appropriate for individual patients.

"Simvastatin has a sound evidence base for reducing cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes and is our first choice statin."

Prescriptions for statins currently form the largest part of the NHS drug bill and are increasing by 30 per cent every year in England.


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