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Medicines costing over £20 will be labelled, Hunt announces

All medicines costing more than £20 will be labelled in a bid to reduce costs, Jeremy Hunt, secretary of state for health said at a conference in London yesterday.

The packages will not only be labelled with the price, they will also be marked 'funded by the UK taxpayer'.

The aim is to raise public awareness of the cost of medical waste, which is currently estimated at £300 million a year.

“People who use our services need to know that in the end they pay the price for this waste… I can announce that we intend to publish the indicative medicine costs to the NHS on the packs of all medicines costing more than £20, which will also be marked 'funded by the UK taxpayer'.

“This will not just reduce waste by reminding people of the cost of medicine, but also improve patient care by boosting adherence to drug regimes. I will start the processes to make this happen this year, with an aim to implement it next year,” Hunt said at the annual Local Government Association meeting in Harrogate.

In response, Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “We think it's important for the public to be better informed about how money is spent in the NHS. Polling we commissioned from YouGov about the public's views on the NHS found that less than half (40%) of people thought they had enough knowledge to contribute to an open debate about the future of the NHS.

“Of those who said they don't feel they have the necessary information to contribute to an open debate about the future of the NHS, 74 per cent said that to do so, they would need more information on how the NHS is funded and how money is spent. We will be interested in seeing more detail about how the labelling policy will be implemented.”