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Money over medication

A new investigation by 'Pulse' magazine has found that NHS managers are banning GPs from prescribing high-cost drugs in order to save on prescription budgets.

The magazine questioned over 134 Primary Care Organisations (PCOs) under the Freedom of Information Act and reports that 73 had either added drugs to a blacklist or placed additional restrictions on prescribing in primary care in the last year in an effort to save an estimated £1.9 million each in 2011/12.

According to 'Pulse', these restrictions often include drugs approved by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE). This includes gliptins for people with diabetes (namely Sitagliptin and Vildagliptin), which helps the body to produce more insulin when needed.

People’s health must not be compromised

Diabetes UK Chief Executive, Barbara Young, said: "It is extremely worrying to hear GPs may be restricted from prescribing diabetes medication approved by NICE in order to just cut costs.

"Diabetes is a serious condition which, if not managed effectively, can lead to devastating and expensive complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness and amputation.

"Patient choice is paramount and it’s vital people receive the relevant medication to suit their individual needs, where other cheaper drugs may not have given the necessary control, so they can manage their diabetes as best as they can and reduce the risk of complications.

"People’s health must not be compromised with an attempt to cut costs on pre-approved drugs. This would be a very short-sighted policy as complications of diabetes, like kidney failure, are hugely expensive."

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