Health

Prescriptions to display drug cost

Pharmacist Image copyright Thinkstock

Packets of prescription medication will display how much their contents have cost taxpayers, under government plans.

The figure and the words "funded by the UK taxpayer" will be added to all packs costing more than £20 in England.

It is part of efforts to reduce the £300m bill for "wasted" medication, which is prescribed but not used.

The health secretary said there was no such thing as a free health service and this would reduce waste by reminding people of the cost of medicine.

Jeremy Hunt added: "Everything we are proud of in the NHS is funded by taxpayers, and every penny we waste costs patients more through higher taxes or reduced services."

Neal Patel, from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said: "We know that around 30 to 50% of patients don't use their medicines as intended and there is around £150 million of avoidable medicines waste.

"Although knowledge of the cost of medicines may play a part its equally important we focus on factors such as peoples understanding of the side effects and benefits from medicines, which will also influence whether a condition is treated effectively or the medicine ends up in the bin."

NHS Confederation chief executive Rob Webster said: "It is important for the public to be better informed about how money is spent in the NHS.

"We will be interested in seeing more detail about how the labelling policy will be implemented."