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Long term savings could be made by the NHS if proposals that would allow generic medicines to be dispensed instead of branded equivalents in primary care are implemented.

The Department of Health’s proposals outline a variety of options, including keeping the current situation, allowing generic products to be used instead of branded ones with some exempt products and only substituting branded products for generic ones in selected cases.

The flexible options would allow health professionals to stipulate on prescription forms whether they thought it was appropriate to substitute branded medicines to be substituted for a generic version. Pharmacists could choose to dispense generic products unless the prescription states otherwise.

Health minister Mike O’Brien said: “Where clinically appropriate, it is only sensible to allow more expensive branded products to be substituted with the same generic medicines which are just as effective as the branded version.”

The consultation on the proposed measures will end on March 30, with the opinions of the public, patients, the NHS and stakeholders all being sought.

Copyright Press Association 2010

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