The call in the report by Audit Scotland for improvements to medicines management in hospitals has been welcomed by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) Scotland, although it warned that this must not be interpreted as a way of preventing patients from receiving the most modern, innovative medicines.
Audit Scotland's report calls on Scottish NHS boards to improve their control over the amount of money spent on hospital medicine by the improved use of information technology to improve cost effectiveness and reduce the risk of errors. This recommendation is endorsed by the Scottish-based pharmaceutical industry.
"However, it would be quite wrong if this call to improve the efficiency of the system were seen as an excuse to cut spending on modern medicines in the mistaken notion that cost-effective treatment means cheap," said Jim Eadie, Director of ABPI Scotland.
"Doctors and clinicians should continue to be free to prescribe in the best interest of their patient, not in the interests of false economy - after all, a medicine that works better and has fewer side-effects is often effectively 'cheaper' than one that costs less.
ABPI Scotland also welcomed the recommendation that NHS staff should have access to current, reliable information and expert advice to make the best use of medicines, particularly in the case of more complex medicines.
"The pharmaceutical industry has an excellent track record of working in partnership with NHSScotland in a wide range of projects aimed at treating patients more effectively. We will be very happy to develop such schemes still further," said Mr Eadie.
Audit Scotland also urged hospitals to take steps to anticipate the cost of new medicines, and this call was endorsed by ABPI Scotland. "We already engage with NHSScotland on 'horizon-scanning' for new products, and the industry would be very happy to discuss how this could be further developed," Mr Eadie said.
For further information, please contact: ABPI Press Office 020 7747 1410