King’s fund report 2015 : How much has generic prescribing and dispensing saved the NHS?

Our recent report, Better value in the NHS, includes changes to generic prescribing as an example of improved productivity. Over the past 40 years, the rising trend in cheaper generic medicines rather than proprietary or ‘branded’ drugs being prescribed and dispensed has improved productivity, saving the NHS billions of pounds and enabling millions more prescriptions to be dispensed.

Spending on primary care prescribing over this time has grown four-fold in real terms – from around £2 billion in 1976 to about £8 billion in 2013/14 (Figure 1). This partly reflects the growth in the volume of prescribed items overall – from 285 million in 1976 to just under 1 billion in 2013/14 (Figure 2). But it also reflects a change in the type of medicines prescribed and dispensed, and changes in their prices.

A key change has been the switch away from proprietary drugs still under patent to cheaper (but chemically identical) generic medicines produced once patents end.

Full Report on The King’s Fund 4 August 2015