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NHS overspend on indigestion drugs

Some £100m from the NHS budget has been spent unnecessarily on drugs to treat indigestion, say experts in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).  

Proton pump inhibitors that block the backflow of stomach acid are frequently prescribed for indigestion.

In 2006, £425m was spent on proton pump inhibitors in England alone and £7bn worldwide.

A US study found that most hospital in-patients were taking these drugs unnecessarily at time of discharge.

A further 63% of patients in the UK and 67% of patients in Ireland did not meet their country's proton pump inhibitor criteria.

The BMJ experts say that these drugs reflect a huge advance in therapeutic medicine and have transformed patients' lives, but it is clear they are being overused.

British Medical Journal