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NHS cuts medicines costs by almost £300m over the past year

By Léa Legraien

06 Sep 2019

The NHS has saved almost £300m over the past year by switching to cheaper medicines, it has claimed.

Data published last week by NHS England showed that the uptake of better value medicines resulted in savings worth £294 this year alone, totalling £707m over the past two years.

This comes after a successful NHS campaign aiming to support patients and doctors to make the best use of generic and biologic treatments for illnesses such as arthritis and cancer.

NHS England said it is now on track to meet its target of saving another £400m from its annual medicines bill by 2021.

The biggest saving comes from the drug adalimumab, a prescription-only biological medicine used to treat conditions including arthritis and Crohn’s disease, which saved £110m.

Before the drug came off patent last year, NHS England estimates it cost hospitals over £400m a year, making it their largest spend on medicines.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: ‘The NHS is one of the most efficient health services in the world but as part of the Long Term Plan, we will continue to drive changes to ensure every NHS pound is spent wisely and patients have access to innovative life changing medicines.

‘Use of the best value versions of expensive medicines is already delivering effective treatment for patients across the NHS, including those with cancer, offering the right care for patients while saving the tax payer hundreds of millions of pounds.’

In April, then pharmacy minister Seema Kennedy revealed that over the counter (OTC) medication rationing only made a quarter of its targeted savings.

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