NHS England has launched the Medicines Optimisation Prototype Dashboard to reduce millions of pounds of drugs waste.

The scheme is designed to encourage clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and trusts to “think more about how well their patients are supported to use medicine and less about focusing on cost and volume of drugs”. The prototype dashboard brings together data in one place and includes hospital admission information and “patient experience indicators”, to look  at areas such as medication safety and community pharmacy services.

NHS England noted that about 50% of medicines are not taken as intended and between 5%-8% of all unplanned hospital admissions are due to medication issues. This figure rises to 17% in the over 65s age group.

Cashwise, medicines waste is a significant issue and £300 million is lost in primary care alone, “about half of which is avoidable”. NHS England has called on local professional and academic health science networks should also use this data “in their collaboration with patients, CCGs, trusts and the pharmaceutical industry to support local improvement”.

Clare Howard, deputy chief pharmaceutical officer for NHS England, said that medicines optimisation “is about ensuring that the right patients get the right choice of medicine, at the right time. It is important for the patient, the prescriber, the NHS and the taxpayer that the patient derives the greatest benefit that medicines have to offer”.

ABPI backs initiative

Responding to the initiative, Carol Blount, NHS Partnership director for the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, said the dashboard “should also encourage the NHS to engage and adopt the principles described in the medicines optimisation agenda”. She added that “we fully support NHS England’s shift in focus from looking solely at the spend on medicines in isolation towards the value of medicines and having a better understanding of medicines and the outcomes derived from using them”.

Ms Blount noted that the ABPI is currently in discussion with both the Department of Health and NHS England “on how best to ensure that the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS) delivers better access to innovative medicines for patients”. To achieve this, “we need to see aligned incentives, to ensure the most appropriate and effective use”.

She concluded by saying that “we are pleased to note that this prototype dashboard is not being presented as the final product as there is more work to be done to ensure that this tool works in the best interests of patients. The ABPI will work closely with NHS England to develop the dashboard further”.