North-east health chiefs urged to rethink prescriptions in bid to save money

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Free prescriptions to certain medicines could be axed as part of plans to tackle a £2 million overspend.

Health chiefs in Aberdeenshire have been recommended to remove certain drugs – including those available over-the-counter, such as Deep Heat – from free prescription services in a bid to save up to £154,000.

And a further call has also been made to swap branded medicines for generic alternatives, which could help save £390,000.

If the plans are approved, it means patients prescribed certain drugs would no longer be able to get them for free, and others would instead be given cheaper versions.

Opposition politicians said ensuring patients still get effective treatments should be a “top priority” but acknowledged it was “hardly surprising” that boards were looking to cut costs.

A Scottish Government spokesman said that the policy of free prescriptions had removed “a tax on ill-health”.

The 12 treatments health chiefs have recommended no new patients be prescribed are:
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin, popular supplement for osteoarthritis patients
  • Herbal treatments, often used to self-medicate coughs and colds
  • Lutein and anti-oxidants, supplements used to treat eye issues – particularly macular degeneration, which causes sight loss
  • Omega fatty acid compounds, used as a supplement by some patients with cardiovascular disease
  • Oxycodone and Naloxone combination product, used for pain relief. However the AHSCP has recommended oxycodone be prescribed alone.
  • Paracetamol and tramadol combination product, used for pain relief
  • Perindopril arginine, used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure
  • Rubefacients, such as Deep Heat and menthol gels
  • Trimipramine, anti-depressant
  • Once-daily tadalafil, used for erectile dysfunction
  • Lidocaine plasters, used to treat lasting nerve pain in an area previously affected by shingles
  • Liothyronine, used to treat issues with the thyroid gland