Emollients among 8 treatments that may be scrapped from prescriptions
NHS England is considering scrapping emollient bath and shower products, amiodarone and six other drugs and items from prescriptions issued in primary care.
The eight treatments are the latest in a range of medicines and services that NHS England has said should not be routinely prescribed, because they are of “low clinical effectiveness” or “more cost-effective products are available”.
Items it now considers to be of “low priority for NHS funding” are:
- emollient bath and shower preparations for dry and pruritic skin conditions
- minocycline for acne
- silk garments
- blood glucose testing strips for people with type 2 diabetes that cost more than £10 for 50 strips
- needles for pre-filled and reusable insulin pens that cost more than £5 per 100 needles (see more below).
Launching a public consultation last week (November 28), NHS England said: “In 2017, the cost of prescriptions dispensed in the community was £9.17 billion and we know that across England there is significant variation in what is being prescribed and to whom.
“In addition, patients continue to receive medicines which have been proven to be ineffective or in some cases dangerous, and/or for which there are other more effective, safer and/or cheaper alternatives.”
The proposals aim to “address unwarranted variation” in prescribing and “provide clear national advice to make local prescribing practices more effective”. Any savings will be reinvested back into patient care, NHS England said.
RPS: Emollients restrictions will impact a lot of patients
Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) English board chair Sandra Gidley said many of the latest proposed restrictions “will have little impact” and “it is clearly right and proper that the NHS makes the best use of tax-payers’ money”.
“However, emollient bath and shower products are widely prescribed and this restriction will impact a large number of patients,” she warned.
“While this could be seen as an opportunity for pharmacists to sell the products, the reality is that pharmacists could be in the firing line if wider communications around this are not good. There is also the risk of unintended consequences if patients look for cheap alternatives,” Ms Gidley added.
“A large part of the burden of explaining these changes will fall to the unpaid pharmacy teams at a time when their time and expertise could be better spent.”
Contractor: Likely to impact lower-income patients
Nat Mitchell, pharmacist and director of JWW Allison & Sons Ltd in Cockermouth, said his local surgery is already “making moves” to limit certain items on prescription, including emollients, but he has yet to see this affect patients’ use of the products.
A couple of patients who receive silk garments on prescription “infrequently” will be unhappy if they can no longer receive them, he added.
“Although this will undoubtedly cause some upset among patients, it does tend to fit with the self-care agenda that is being promoted,” Mr Mitchell said.
However, “I do wonder how some lower-income patients will afford to buy these items, as they can be quite expensive”.
The NHS England consultation closes on February 28, 2019.
Last year, C+D hosted a roundtable debate to discuss what plans to scrap certain treatments – including gluten-free items – from prescriptions would mean for pharmacists, patients, and the wider NHS. Listen to it below, and subscribe to all of C+D's podcasts here.