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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 September 2006, 15:36 GMT 16:36 UK
Call to use cheaper heart drugs
A campaign to encourage the use of cheaper non-patent protected anti-cholesterol drugs in the East, to help save 24m, has started.

The East of England Strategic Health Authority (SHA) said it hopes 80% of all patients receiving statins should use the generic version Simvastatin.

This drug is six times cheaper than branded statins.

The SHA said it was encouraging doctors to prescribe this statin - which is just as effective as other statins.

'Significant savings'

Statins are widely used to minimise the risk of heart attacks in people with high cholesterol.

The SHA's director of commissioning Dr Paul Watson said: "We must ensure we use NHS funds carefully and concentrate our spending where it can do the most good."

He said several studies have shown that this non-branded statin is just as effective as branded equivalents, the only difference being the cost.

Dr Watson said: "By encouraging GPs to make the switch, we expect to make significant savings, increase value for money, and release much needed resources to other areas of the health service - all of which will benefit patients in the long term."

Increasing the level of generic prescribing is a long-term Department of Health objective.

The SHA is encouraging health providers to explain the reasons for the change to patients and to change prescriptions to the generic alternative.

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