Study finds overprescription of brand-name drugs in U.K. costs NHS $400 million per year
LONDON According to a new study by Britain’s Committee of Public Accounts, appointed by Parliament to examine the accounts of funds appropriated by the government body, brand-name medicines are overprescribed, as stated in many reports.
Prescription costs in England are capped at 6.65 pounds (US$13.30); regardless of whether a prescription is a brand or a generic, the consumer pays the same amount and the National Health Service pays the difference. As a result of physicians prescribing branded medicines over cost-saving generics, the NHS is spending almost $400 million per year more than it would otherwise. The report blamed pharmaceutical companies with having more of an advantage over physician’s decisions in prescribing then the NHS does.
The British Medical Association, who also felt the hit from the report fired back by stating, “Citing how much pharmaceutical companies spend is not evidence of general practitioners being swayed by their advertising. In a free and open market general practitioners sift the masses of data they receive from journals, primary care trusts prescribing advisers, experts, postgraduate education and pharmaceutical companies.” And the BMA made the important point that, while one in five of the 1000 doctors surveyed by the National Audit Office felt more swayed by industry marketing, it also highlighted that four out of five general practitioners rely on official NHS sources for their prescribing information.
David Stout, director of the PCT Network which represents the majority of primary care trusts, noted that patients as well as physicians should be given information about cost-saving generics. “Every pound wasted on a drug where an equally effective and cheaper alternative is available and clinically appropriate, is a pound that could be spent on another patient.”
The key is getting prescribers on board because if patients have no incentive to switch they certainly won’t want to. Should the public start moving away from brand-names, it could mean a considerable windfall for the generic drug companies.
House passes Defense bill with TRICARE intact
ALEXANDRIA, Va. A new move in Congress to preserve access to community pharmacies for military families drew quick praise today from the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.
NACDS applauded passage in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday of H.R. 4986, a newly revised version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008. The bill is similar to the Defense Authorization Act that was vetoed by President Bush, who objected to a provision related to funding for the Iraqi government. As such, it retains important provisions related to the TRICARE pharmacy program.
Those provisions have long been actively supported by retail pharmacy groups. Among them, the revised bill extends the current freeze on increases to retail pharmacy co-payments. That extension provides a more level playing field between retail and mail-order pharmacy by easing the penalty military members and their dependents once incurred for choosing a community pharmacy over the mail-order provision offered by TRICARE.
The bill passed by the House yesterday also provides that the Department of Defense may negotiate with drug manufacturers for federal pricing discounts for TRICARE prescriptions filled at retail pharmacies, in the same manner as they do today for TRICARE prescriptions filled at military bases or by mail order.
According to Congressional Budget Office estimates, giving TRICARE administrators the power to negotiate drug prices will provide save the government $300 million in fiscal 2008, and $1.8 billion in savings in fiscal years 2008-2012.
“As Yogi Berra said, ‘It’s deja vu all over again.’ We applaud the House for its quick action to revise and re-pass the Defense Authorization Act while keeping its pharmacy-related provisions intact,” said NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson. “Keeping equal access to community pharmacy for our military men and women is a priority for NACDS.
“This legislation will help maintain choice for soldiers, military retirees, and their families,” Anderson said.
The Defense Authorization Act still faces a vote in the Senate and White House scrutiny.
PL Developments acquires PAL Labs’ manufacturing facility
WESTBURY, N.Y. PL Developments has acquired the assets of PAL Laboratories, which owns a manufacturing facility in Florida focused on the production of pharmaceutical, over-the-counter and nutritional tablets, caplets, and two-piece hard-shell capsules, which PL will use to create a new subsidiary.
This new acquisition will allow for the formation of a new PL Developments’ subsidiary, Avema Pharma Solutions. Avema will focus on developing and manufacturing new products for the pharmaceutical, OTC, and nutritional markets. The facility, which is in current good manufacturing practices, will allow Avema to partner with pharmaceutical companies to develop, manufacture, package, and distribute products for the companies to market.
According to Mitchell Singer, president and chief executive officer of PL Developments, “This acquisition is exciting for everyone at PL Developments. We believe that the synergies between the two companies are substantial. This FDA inspected facility will allow us to develop and manufacture exciting new Rx/OTC products that we will be able to deliver to our retail partners such as Wal-Mart, Costco, CVS and Walgreen’s.”