Guernsey Press

Prescription costs to taxpayer rise by 20% in 12 months

INCREASED prescribing and new medical devices and medicines led to a 20% increase in the cost to the taxpayers between 2020 and 2021.

(Picture by Shutterstock)

The figure, which takes into account the money received from prescription charges, rose from £17.65m to £21.12m.

A total of 1.6 million prescriptions for drugs and medicines were dispensed in 2021 – an increase of 3.3% from the previous year.

The average cost per item went up by 24%, from £10.01 in 2020 to £12.40.

Health & Social Care’s prescribing adviser Geraldine O’Riordan said the cost would be significantly more without the substantial discounts the islands are able to achieve.

‘The Bailiwick secures medicines for islanders often at heavily discounted NHS prices via a complex combination of rebates on drugs dispensed by retail pharmacies and discounts for hospital products,’ she said.

‘The increase in cost in 2021 was due to a combination of increased prescribing, new medical devices and medicines approved as “business as usual” and new NICE TAs approved in accordance with the resolutions made by the States in 2020.’

The majority of products are made available by the drug companies at set prices, which are significantly lower than elsewhere, Ms O’Riordan said, and Guernsey benefits greatly from this.

‘For the newer products there is, in theory, a set NHS discount and the conversation is if we can get it and if so how. This is easier for hospital cancer drugs where the discount is given more or less automatically.’

Saving money for the taxpayer by negotiating with the drug companies had become increasingly important.

‘My job has evolved into that,’ Ms O’Riordan said.

‘I’d be failing in my duty if I were not doing that. We leave no stone unturned.’