Social Audit Ltd
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John Whatley,
Second Clerk, Health Committee
House of Commons

20 October 1998

Dear Mr Whatley,

You may remember we had a terse and unsatisfactory correspondence earlier in the year. Understandably, you expressed irritation over my letters, having correctly inferred that I had ideas about how the Committee might do a more effective job.

I am now enclosing a tabulation that may be of interest to the Committee. It illustrates the extent of prescribing in general practice in England of drug products rated 'less suitable for prescribing', in the most reliable sense of that term. Some 30 million prescriptions/year are written for such products, at a cost to the NHS of over 100m/year.

The Committee might be interested not only in the possibility of improving prescribing standards and avoiding waste, but also in examining the wider implications of these data. Clearly they may indicate something about the critical faculties of some prescribers, standards of stewardship by DoH, and about the relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and the NHS.

Perhaps the Heath Committee might consider making further enquiries? In the attached letter to the Secretary of State for Health, I have suggested one way in which the immediate problem might be tackled, but there have to be many others.

Yours sincerely,
Charles Medawar


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List of correspondence with MCA/CSM