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NHS postcode lottery worsens as GPs black-list essential drugs

Published on 24/11/2011

GPs are being told not to prescribe essential drugs to patients because they are too expensive, increasing the NHS postcode lottery and potentially putting the lives of patients without PMI at risk.

GP magazine submitted a freedom of information request or Primary Care Trusts across the country. Of the 77 PCTs who responded to the request, 19 admitted to putting certain drugs on a ‘black’ or ‘double-red’ list, effectively banning GPs from prescribing them.

PCTs are exaggerating the postcode lottery by blacklisting approved drugs

At least 14 drugs approved by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) have been considered too expensive to prescribe to suitable patients. These include drugs effective at preventing heart attacks and strokes, as well as fighting cancer.

Lipitor and Crestor are among those banned, drugs which cut cholesterol in people at risk of heart disease and stroke. Health authorities would rather GPs prescribe ‘generic’ statins that can be produced at lower cost, despite the fact that they can be less effective and produce more side effects.

Blood-thinning drugs Plavix and Pradaxa are also banned, as are cancer drugs Mepact, Tarceva and Yondelis, used to treated bone cancer, lung cancer and ovarian cancer respectively. Other blacklisted drugs include those for asthma, diabetes and epilepsy.

Family doctors can be penalised for banning licensed drugs, since it can lead to an increased postcode lottery for drugs. Dr Nigel Capps, of the charity Heart UK, said:

"Postcode prescribing may lead to further variation in heat attacks and strokes."

Almost half of Primary Care Trusts had also put drugs not approved by NICE on the list- some authorities are now banning more than 100. This routine blacklisting means that patients without private medical insurance might not have access to life saving treatments.

One of the main benefits of private health insurance is having access to drugs not approved by NICE or too expensive on the NHS. With health cover, you will often have unrestricted access to suitable treatments, regardless of the cost.

Medical insurance doesn’t have to be expensive, and it can save lives. Compare health insurance policies online now to gain peace of mind about your future health.

© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2011

Categories:  NHS and Hospitals
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