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More Than £500m Wasted On Drugs; MP Blames NH

The NHS has been accused of wasting over £500m associated with overpayment for a handful of drugs by Liberal Democrat John Hemming// who cited government figures on three drugs to substantiate his statement. He further added that once the drugs lost their patent, the NHS was slow to react to fall in drug prices.

The Birmingham Yardley MP blamed the health department for making a mess of the financial resources while many trusts have been struggling to strike a balance. In response, said that it did not recognize the quoted figures. Increasing pressure over some health ministers regarding management of NHS finances is said to have set the stage for the above criticism.

Last year, the amount overspent by health service in England has been projected to be at least £600m. Desperate attempts to improve the financial position of the NHS have resulted in over 7,000 job losses in recent weeks.

The amount over spent on anti-cholesterol drug simvastatin; amlodipine used for treatment of angina and lisinopril used for heart disease treatment has been calculated to be £382m, £26m and £106m respectively from 2002 to 2005.

During the same period, patents on these drugs had dropped resulting in a drop in the price of the drug in the commercial drug market. This however was not reflected in the amount paid to the pharmacists by the Government.

‘The government is slow to react to drops in drug prices once patents end. Therefore, the money they are paying to pharmacists is way too much. At time when there are real funding problems this is mismanagement of the worst kind. These are only three drugs, there are no reason we won't see the same trend with others,’ said Mr Hemming in a statement. A writing has been forwarded to the National Audit Office, demanding an investigation into the issue.

'The Department of Health does not recognize the claim that there has been a loss of £500m to the NHS in respect of these medicines. We have monitored prices of generic medicines after patent expiry and taken action when necessary, to ensure that reimbursement prices reflect market prices,' said a spokesperson for the Health Department.

'We do not believe the report to be accurate. We have been working with the Department of Health to establish profit levels and ensure that pharmacies are neither over or underpaid for their NHS services,' added Sue Sharpe, Chief Executive, Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee.
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