NHS: docs overprescribe branded drugs

Doctors overprescribe brand-name meds, and it's pharma's fault. Or so says a new report from the UK's Committee of Public Accounts. One-fifth of the general practitioners surveyed said their prescribing behavior was more influenced by pharma marketing than by official advice from the National Health Service. "The NHS spends each year at least [$395 million] more than it should," because of GPs prescribing higher-cost meds rather than cheaper generics, said MP Edward Leigh, chairman of the CPA.

Now, that may say something about the quality of the official advice. Or it may be a testament to pharma marketing; studies have shown that doctors are influenced even by small gifts. (And it is worth noting that four-fifths of the surveyed docs said marketing didn't outweigh the NHS.)

Next, what to do about it: The report suggests that doctors specify generics when they can, and when no generic copy exists but other effective generic treatments do, to use the latter.

Meanwhile, we have to note a little cognitive dissonance. Another recent report from Parliament concluded that the NHS doesn't adopt new, branded meds fast enough. Poor NHS. Can't win with brands, can't win without them.

- read the new report from the Committee of Public Accounts (.pdf)
- get the article from PharmaTimes
- see this report about the previous House of Commons report at ePolitix