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Prescribing of low-priority treatments

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Review of: Walker AJ et al. Trends and variation in prescribing of low-priority treatments identified by NHS England: a cross-sectional study and interactive data tool in English primary care. J Royal Soc Med 2018;111:203–13.

Key learning points

  • NHS England spent £153.5 million on 5.8 million low-priority items in primary care in 2016–2017 and £149.0 million on 6.8 low-priority items in 2015–2016.

  • The increase in expenditure was driven by the rising costs of some drugs, which undermined cost-saving efforts.

  • Variation in prescribing of low-priority items reflected practice demographics but also variation in Clinical Commissioning Group policies.

  • The greatest increase in cost was for co-proxamol, liothyronine and trimipramine.


This retrospective cohort study used National Health Service (NHS) Digital data on the quantity and cost of prescribing from 7489 …

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  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • Contributors DTB Team.