28 March 2017: NHS England has announced a review of “low value” prescription items, with a view to cutting NHS expenditure. The review aims to develop guidelines for clinical commissioning groups around an initial set of ten medicines deemed “ineffective, unnecessary or inappropriate for the NHS”. NHS England say the items, which include gluten-free foods, could be purchased over the counter by the patient, rather than being issued by prescription.
In response to the announcement, Sandra Gidley, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS) English Pharmacy Board, spoke to 11 BBC local radio stations. Gidley was also quoted in six national newspapers including the Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail and the Financial Times. She voiced the RPS’s concerns that “a blanket ban of products to treat life-long conditions such as coeliac disease and chronic pain could have unintended consequences.” She added: “We are surprised that homeopathy which has no scientific evidence of effectiveness is not on the list for review. We would also agree that procurement of medicines and other products should be reviewed to try and reduce the costs of medicines to the NHS.”