This article responds to the recent DHSS proposals of last November to restrict prescribing of drugs in certain categories*; it does not attempt to examine the underlying principles. The proposals list drugs in each of these categories which will continue to be supplied on NHS prescription. From 1st April 1985 the cost of a prescription for a drug not listed will have to be met by the patient. The Minister has explicitly said that ‘the list will contain all the drugs needed to meet clinical needs’, and has asked doctors and the industry to help him to ensure that no necessary drug is accidentally excluded. If this is achieved, as it should be, the resulting two-tier system of prescribing will harm no-one. It cannot be achieved however, if the DHSS insists on selecting only unbranded generic products, for many essential products will not fall into this category. The list must be kept continuously under review and open to amendment.
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