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Pharmacists call for changes to prescribing for long-term conditions

Charges should be per repeat authorisation of batch of drugs rather than per prescription, they suggest

Ingrid Torjesen

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

The English Pharmacy Board (EPB) of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society has called for greater flexibility in prescribing for patients with stable long-term conditions after the government announced that prescription charges would be increasing in England from £7.85 to £8.05 from April.

The Prescription Charges Coalition – an alliance of over 30 organisations, including the Royal Pharmaceutical Society – recently surveyed over 4,000 people of working age with chronic conditions and over one-third of respondents said that prescription charges were preventing them from taking their medicines as prescribed.

Mr Ash Soni, vice chair of the English Pharmacy Board, said: “It’s appalling that the cost of medication prohibits over a third of people from taking it as prescribed. 

“One way to help some patients would be to look at the duration of GP prescribing intervals for people taking medication for a stable long-term condition while maintaining their contact with the pharmacist. Repeat dispensing schemes enabling a prescriber to issue a batch of monthly prescriptions held by a pharmacy of the patient’s choice could be more effectively utilised, where identified to be appropriate.

“Linking the prescription charge to the repeat authorisation, rather than to each prescription form, is likely to increase medicine adherence through reduced costs and inconvenience for this very specific group of patients. It would also relieve pressure on GP workloads, while maintaining oversight and effective medicines optimisation at pharmacy level.”

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