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UK GPs welcome prescribing incentives ruling

GP leaders in the UK have welcomed a ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that will allow public health bodies to offer cash incentives to encourage doctors to prescribe cheaper drugs.

04 Jul 2010

GP leaders in the UK have welcomed a ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that will allow public health bodies to offer cash incentives to encourage doctors to prescribe cheaper drugs.

The ECJ ruled that it was permissible for public health bodies to use financial incentives to encourage doctors to prescribe specific named medicinal products.

BMA Welsh GPs committee chair, Dr David Bailey, said the decision made “common sense” in light of the financial pressure faced by the NHS.

“If somebody is perfectly stable on a drug that is under patent and you need to consider whether to change it purely because it is cheaper, then there is a workload implication,” Dr Bailey said.

“I don’t think it is unreasonable that there should be incentives.”

But not all groups are happy. The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, which brought the challenge that led to the ECJ ruling, said the decision risked undermining patient confidence that prescribing decisions were, and were seen to be, independent of personal financial considerations.

“Pharmaceutical companies, quite rightly, are not allowed to offer incentives to doctors to alter their prescribing decisions. We don’t believe the Department of Health should be allowed to do it,” a spokesperson said.


Published: 04 Jul 2010