All change with prescriptions

THOUSANDS of patients across Suffolk could see their medication change as health bosses urge GPs to look at the types of drug they prescribe.Doctors in the county have been reviewing the drugs they prescribe to patients with high cholesterol, known as statins, six months ago and many people have been asked to switch to a cheaper brand.

THOUSANDS of patients across Suffolk could see their medication change as health bosses urge GPs to look at the types of drug they prescribe.

Doctors in the county have been reviewing the drugs they prescribe to patients with high cholesterol, known as statins, six months ago and many people have been asked to switch to a cheaper brand.

But as health bosses continue to battle against a financial crisis doctors have been urged to step up the pace at which they are switching patients to the new simvastatin drugs.

If 80 per cent of patients switch to the simvastatin drugs the primary care trust could save £2.8m this year.

Dr Peter Bradley, director of public health for Suffolk PCT, said: “Many practices are already switching to simvastatin but we need GPs to speed up this process if we're going to achieve the 80pc target within the next six months.

“We believe it would be wrong not to ask people to change because it means the NHS would be knowingly wasting public money.

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“Nationally, a number of PCTs are achieving simvastatin prescribing rates in excess of 75pc and eight have already exceeded 80pc. “Locally, a number of practices have switched and are already approaching this 80pc target.

“These practices have not reported any clinical problems and patient acceptance has been high.”

Simvastatin has been available for several years and offers much better value for money than other statins.

Studies have shown that for the majority of patients newer branded statins are no more effective but significantly more expensive. The small proportion of patients who are prescribed statins but who may not be suitable for simvastatin will continue to use other types.

Currently in the Suffolk PCT area about £800,000 a year is spent on simvastatin and £5.6m on other statins.

Prescriptions for statins form the largest part of the NHS drug bill and are increasing by 30pc every year in England.

The PCT is currently battling a debt of more than £25m.

Have you been affected by these changes? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

WEBLINK: www.suffolkpct.nhs.uk

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