NHS England has set out plans to curb the prescribing of a further group of ‘low priority’ items such as silk garments and bath oils in a move to cut costs by up to £70m a year.

NHS England has already ordered an end to the routine prescribing of homeopathic products and a raft of OTC products used to treat 35 minor self-limiting illnesses

The latest consultation is asking for views on:

  • Products that are deemed to be of relatively low clinical effectiveness
  • Items which are clinically effective but where more cost-effective items are available
  • Items which are clinically effective but, due to the nature of the item, are deemed a low priority for NHS funding.

The items are:

  • Silk garments
  • Aliskiren – used to treat blood pressure
  • Amiodarone – used to treat abnormal heart rhythms
  • Bath and shower emollient preparations
  • Dronedarone – used to treat atrial fibrillation
  • Minocycline – used to treat acne
  • Blood glucose testing strips for type 2 diabetes
  • Needles for Pre-Filled and Reusable Insulin Pens for diabetes

The proposed recommendations on glucose testing strips and needles are focused on substitution for cheaper, but equally effective products, not a reduction in prescribing of these items, says NHS England. Insulin pen needles vary in cost from £3.95 to £30.08 for 100 and strips range in price from £5.45 to £16.53 for 50. The aim is to ensure consistency across the country and encourage commissioners and prescribers to consider the more cost-effective options.

The consultation will run for three months until February 28 2019, after which joint commissioning guidance is expected to be published by NHS England and NHS Clinical Commissioners.

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