Prescribing guidance for pregabalin produced by NHS England has reduced the risk of pharmacists infringing Pfizer's patent, Pharmacy Voice has said.
A generic version of Lyrica has come onto the market but Pfizer has retained the patent for the treatment of pain, causing concerns from pharmacists about how to fulfill their dispensing duties.
Pharmacy Voice chief executive Rob Darracott said guidance sent to clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) last week (February 27) would ensure that pharmacists would not be “unfairly placed in a difficult position” of having to decide whether to follow a prescription to treat pain with the generic version.
In its guidance, NHS England said all GP practices must write the name of the branded version of the drug on any prescriptions for pain. Dispensers should try to ensure “as far as reasonably possible” that patients with a prescription for the generic version were still supplied with Lyrica, the commissioning body said.
GPs should also try to amend their electronic prescription systems to include this guidance, it added.
Mr Darracott said it was a “relief to see NHS England publish the long-awaited guidance”, which would ensure the drug was consistently prescribed across CCGs and avoid delays for patients to receive their medication.
Last month, Numark told C+D that pharmacists could be tempted to disobey the restrictions on prescribing the generic version if they had run out of Lyrica.