Primary Care Trusts cutting costs by ‘red listing’ drugs
20th May 2011
In order to cut costs, Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) are advising GPs not to prescribe certain drugs even though they have National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) approval. These drugs have been put on ‘red lists’, which more than half of all PCTS have brought in over the last year. The GP magazine Pulse discovered this information after requesting a Freedom of Information Act. Medicines on red lists are ones that GPs should not normally initiate or request for prescription. It would appear that the number of drugs on the red list is on the rise with restrictions covering many NICE-approved drugs, including the top-selling statin ‘Lipitor’ developed by Pfizer and AstraZeneca’s ‘Crestor’, both of which lower cholesterol. AstraZeneca has said it is “concerned about widespread red listing being used to make ‘drastic’ savings on prescribing budgets.” They added that “restricting GPs ability to prescribe on cost grounds alone was ‘inappropriate and inconsistent’ with established prescribing guidance.” Other drugs have also been red listed on the basis of ‘low clinical priority’, including drugs for Parkinson’s disease, newer contraceptive pills, erectile dysfunction drugs, and Roche’s weight-loss drug Xenical. Red lists have come about as GP practice requirements aim to achieve new quality and productivity targets, and meet the wider need of £20 billion in efficiency savings by 2015. Therefore, it is possible that more drugs will continue to be added to the red list with David Stout, chief executive of the PCT Network, saying, “We will probably continue to look at the cost-effectiveness of every aspect of healthcare, including prescribing, because we need to get the best possible value for money out of the limited funds available to the NHS.”