MP tries to resuscitate drug price labelling legislation to cut waste
A Conservative MP has brought forward a bill aimed at forcing pharmacies to print Drug Tariff prices on prescription labels – six years after similar plans were shelved.
Speaking in parliament this week, South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay said that presenting patients with information on the cost of their drugs would help tackle waste and encourage people “to be part of the efficiency measures that the nation needs now,” commenting: “I think it is fair to ask us all to do our bit.”
Mr Mackinlay, who is married to a pharmacist, said he has heard of many instances where after a person's death their house is found to be "full of unused drugs that were often issued under long-standing, repeat prescriptions". He also noted the Government’s attempts to tackle overprescribing.
He claimed that if passed, his bill would help patients “play a key part in the common sense optimisation of our resources… by recognising the value of what they are receiving for free and by intervening themselves, if necessary, when they see high-value drugs, which they know will never be used, simply landing each month”.
“This is not an attempt to charge; it is a means to achieve transparency so that we all appreciate what we get for free, because we know that ‘for free’ does not exist,” he added.
Mr Mackinlay said he had held a focus group with some of his older constituents, who responded positively and indicated that they “would respond to such a sensible nudge”.
The bill, which was presented by former health secretary Matt Hancock alongside Mr Mackinlay and a number of other MPs, is scheduled to undergo a second reading on February 3 next year.
A similar proposal was shelved in 2016 following a consultation in which a majority of respondents expressed “largely negative views,” including concerns about possible unintended consequences such as patients not following a course of treatment in order not to “burden the NHS”.
“Medicines waste and improving patient adherence is being actively tackled through a variety of other policy measures,” said the Government at that time.
Thorrun Govind, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s board chair for England, told Pharmacy Network News: “Medicines labels should focus on clinical information, not cost. We’ve heard concerns about similar proposals in the past and called for further evidence before any changes are considered.
“Medicines are a vital part of health care and people should always take their medicines as prescribed. People should not be discouraged to take the medicines they need.
“Reducing medicines waste, as well as reducing overprescribing, depends on collaboration across pharmacy, general practice and the whole of the health service.”
Mr Mackinlay has been approached for comment.