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Cutting inappropriate COPD prescriptions could save cash for London CCGs


2 December 2015

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Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in London could save £2m if they reduced inappropriate use of a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) drug, according to a new study.

Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in London could save £2m if they reduced inappropriate use of a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) drug, according to a new study.

In 2014-15 the local NHS across London spent £67.6 million on specific drugs to treat chronic lung disease – but this could be cut by £2 million if more innovative partnership working across the NHS was employed – according to a new study being presented at the British Thoracic Society’s Winter Meeting today.

The study, by Imperial College Healthcare Trust, Guys and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust and NHSE Procurement Partnership, looked at trends in inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) prescribing across London clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and the reasons for variation.

ICS is most commonly used to treat complex respiratory conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and high-dose corticosteroids (HDICS) currently comprise two of the four highest spend medicines in the NHS (NHSBSA Mar 2015).

The study concludes that if all CCGs in London could manage a 10% reduction in inappropriate HDICS prescribing not only would side effects be reduced, but there would be a saving of more than £2m per annum to the NHS.

Moreover, some experts believe there is an over-reliance on HDICS use in treating COPD specifically. The treatment is only effective with a small number of patients and there are increasing concerns about some of the side effects such as pneumonia.

The research found that reductions in HDICS spending were seen mainly in those CCGs with integrated respiratory care teams – where hospital-based lung consultants can work closely with GP practices to review patients’ notes, making sure people with COPD are receiving the most effective treatments and lifestyle support.  

 

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