Public consultation: wasteful and ineffective drug prescriptions

A formal public consultation is being launched on new national guidelines which state that 18 treatments – including homeopathy and herbal treatments – which together cost taxpayers £141 million a year should generally not be prescribed | NHS England

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Simon Stevens, NHS England’s chief executive, described homeopathy as “at best a placebo and a misuse of scarce NHS funds”.

In addition the consultation also covers a further 3,200 prescription items, many of which are readily available and sold ‘over the counter’ in pharmacies, supermarkets, petrol stations, corner shops and other retailers, often at a significantly lower price than the cost to the NHS.

The consultation proposes initial action to limit prescribing of products for minor self-limiting conditions which currently cost taxpayers £50-100 million a year. The products include cough mixture and cold treatments, eye drops, laxatives and sun cream lotions.

NHS England is also supportive of restricting the availability of gluten-free foods on prescription, which costs £26million a year, which is currently subject to a Department of Health consultation.

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