Proposals that would allow generic medicines to be dispensed instead of branded ones in primary care have been set out in a consultation by the Department of Health (DH). The consultation closes on 30 March.
The three options are:
- To do nothing (option 1).
- Allow substitution by generic equivalents but with a list of products that are exempt from the scheme (option 2).
- Allow substitution by generic equivalents but with a list of products that are included in the scheme (option 3).
The DH favours option 3, effectively the inverse of option 2, for several reasons including the fact that the in this case the list can be kept short (probably around 40 products to begin with) to focus on those drugs where the greatest cost savings are available, and that the list and the system will be more manageable.
For both options 2 and 3, prescribers will be able to opt in or opt out of the arrangements on individual prescriptions so that they can tailor their prescribing to the clinical needs of the individual patient: the DH’s favoured route for this is an opt-out endorsement for option 3.