A health board has called for NHS Scotland to bring in ‘do not prescribe’ lists to stop doctors prescribing medicines that are less effective or are available over-the-counter at pharmacies.
NHS Ayrshire & Arran estimates this would save the health board around £300,000 a year.
In a submission to a Holyrood enquiry, Ayrshire & Arran health officials say the list would include medicines that “have limited clinical effectiveness and/or do not require a prescription because they are available for patients to buy.”
A similar scheme already exists in the NHS in England.
Four of the top ten most commonly prescribed items in Scotland are available over the counter at a pharmacist.
Nearly three million co-codamol prescriptions were dispensed last year at a cost of just under £12m, suggesting the health service pays more than £4 per packet.
Items on the do not prescribe list south of the border include quick-release fentanyl that is deemed less safe that newer versions of the drug and creams used to treat musculoskeletal pain that are available over the counter in pharmacies.
Certain types of needles for Insulin pens were also added this year because of huge cost variations.
Prices ranged from less than £3 for 100 needles all the way up to £30.
Ayrshire & Arran health board also calls for a “significant commitment and investment” into prescribing data-tracking.
It says the current system is “disjointed” and leads to gaps between GPs, community pharmacies and hospitals.