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Published on 17 January 2008

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Call for price labels on drugs

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A spending watchdog has called for the cost of prescription drugs to be printed on packets to persuade patients not to waste them.

MPs on the influential public accounts committee said that such a move could save the NHS up to £100m a year.

The committee said that it was important that the millions of people taking free or heavily-subsidised medicines were made aware of the high cost to the taxpayer.

The calls for price labelling follow a probe by the National Audit Office (NAO) which found unused and wasted drugs are costing the NHS at least £100m a year, although that figure could be much higher.

The committee’s report said: “88% of prescription items are dispensed free to patients and the remainder for a standard charge not directly linked to actual cost.

“There is a risk that the patients for whom these drugs are prescribed may not be aware of how expensive medicines can be, and consequently do not realise the importance of taking them correctly and returning them for safe disposal if they are not used.”

So far Government consultations on putting the cost of medicines on their labels have proved inconclusive, with some patients saying they might not take drugs if they thought they were too expensive or too cheap.

Copyright © PA Business 2008

National Audit Office



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