Prescriptions to display drug cost: Interesting... - Thyroid UK

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Prescriptions to display drug cost

helvella profile image

Interesting. I suspect that many of us here can think of many other ways of reducing medicine costs.

Prescriptions to display drug cost

37 minutes ago

From the section Health

Packets of prescription medication will display how much their contents have cost taxpayers, under government plans.

The figure and the words "funded by the UK taxpayer" will be added to all packs costing more than £20 in England.

It is part of efforts to reduce the £300m bill for "wasted" medication, which is prescribed but not used.

The health secretary said there was no such thing as a free health service and this would reduce waste by reminding people of the cost of medicine.

Jeremy Hunt added: "Everything we are proud of in the NHS is funded by taxpayers, and every penny we waste costs patients more through higher taxes or reduced services."

Neal Patel, from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said: "We know that around 30 to 50% of patients don't use their medicines as intended and there is around £150 million of avoidable medicines waste.

"Although knowledge of the cost of medicines may play a part its equally important we focus on factors such as peoples understanding of the side effects and benefits from medicines, which will also influence whether a condition is treated effectively or the medicine ends up in the bin."

NHS Confederation chief executive Rob Webster said: "It is important for the public to be better informed about how money is spent in the NHS.

"We will be interested in seeing more detail about how the labelling policy will be implemented."

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46 Replies

Helvella, good if it works but it's just as likely to generate complaints when patients become aware they've been switched from an expensive brand drug to a cheaper generic.

If MHRA regs were changed, instead of waiting for companies to obtain a licence to distribute in the UK, the NHS could source cheaper T3 (and other drugs) from abroad instead of paying rip off prices to Mercury Pharma.

helvella profile image
helvellaAdministrator in reply to Clutter


Worries me that patients will feel guilty - either for not taking an expensive medicine that doesn't work for them, or for getting such an expensive medicine at all.

Others will demand a more expensive medicine because, according to some, "you get what you pay for".

Clutter profile image
Clutter in reply to helvella

Helvella, I don't understand why patients reorder medicines they don't take and I suspect the initiative is directed at them. I agree, it is likely to make some patients feel guilty about the cost of their medication and others will become more demanding.

It will probably alter the price of POMs sold on illegally, too.

helvella profile image
helvellaAdministrator in reply to Clutter


Quite a lot of older folk just wait for their medicines to arrive. They will be sent regardless. Some will feel terrible at seeing the costs but actually not have the werewithal to even discuss with their health care providers.

in reply to helvella

When my Endo first prescribed T3 for me and I took the repeat prescription to my GP he immediately commented on the cost £120 for 28 tablets at that time,which ...... Yes ! does almost make you feel guilty for needing it,though he did say I could have it.

However,on the next Endo visit when I told him the cost had been commented on, his reply was but you are only taking half a tablet a day .....£60 a month......that's not expensive!

I can see a problem where because there are so few alternatives available on NHS that if people are struggling to regain their health and start buying and self medicating in order to get suited are they going to tell their GPs ?

If the government took notice of our petition for the supply of better diagnosis and choice of medication here in UK then there would be no need for any deception.

greygoose profile image
greygoose in reply to Clutter

How many people are actually going to read this? Not many, I suspect.

And I really Don't think the patient is to blame, it's the doctor. Does he not realise when a patient isn't taking his pills? Doesn't he expect to see some improvement, and when he doesn't see it, doesn't he Wonder why? Either that patient isn't taking his médicine or it's not the right médicine for him. In either case, the question should be why? Or are they really not interested in getting their patients well?

And then there's the question of over-prescribing. The patient doesn't write the prescription himself.

I really think this is just whitewash, being seen to do something whilst doing nothing useful at all

Excellent comment, greygoose. It seems that every thing in the world is being taken over by bureaucrats, politicians, bean counters, bottom-liners and whiz-kids, fresh out of college without the God-given common sense to come in out of the rain.

The mindset of these types of folks keeps them from seeing the obvious and realizing that patients wouldn't be abandoning conventional, main stream medicine in droves if their needs were being met.

So, of course, it all becomes the fault of the patient, not the corrupt and negligent system that rewards and emphasizes all the wrong things. Funny how that is... putting all the blame on the only entity in the equasion who has NO control, input or say so over anything.

Seems like the Chinese were onto something with their system where you paid your doctor when you were well and owed him nothing when you were sick.

its all about the money , most patients don't know any better ,, they just get diagnosed and take whats given to them/or not as they're scared as they've read on the internet its bad for you ........ doctors get paid ,,,,,, medicine equals money ,,,,, its all about keeping you sick to make money ......... in my humble opinion of course :)

Agree, Paula. I have heard it said that medicine is all about disease 'management', not cures nowadays. Yet, at the same time, anything that comes along that seems to be helpful and with minimal side effects, gets banned or it disappears. Funny how t3 seems to be getting scarce and very expensive. Wonder why that is?

And cure cancer? Why would Big Medicine and Big Pharma have any incentive to cure cancer? In the states, it is a billion dollar+ industry.

I think the continued ignorance about treating thyroid and adrenal issues shown by docs on both sides of the pond is a scandal !!

We need a whole new approach ,,,,,,,, functional medicine ............... find the cause ,,,,,,, heal ....... have you read ? so interesting

My mum had a cancer op 5 weeks ago ............. recently saw the cancer specialist and she gave the punch in the face one study facts ..... 15% survive ....... 60% die ... 25% die of something else ............ if you have chemo then 5% survive .......... when i asked about diet etc and any other studies she didn't want to know !!! If you're going to give the facts have plenty of them and plenty of studies and options........ oh and a bedside manor would help ! .......... I keep saying it ............... we can put men on the moon ........ but something like this ? no chance ....... yes it all comes down to money !

Hi, Paula. Excellent link you posted. Functional medicine? Sounds like what we call holistic... whole body medicine. Years ago, doctors were all pretty much 'general practitioners' and knew the families and treated everything that came along. They knew their patients and weren't fighting conditions of today...toxic food, air, water etc.

I am so sorry about your mom. I am a 10 yr breast cancer survivor, opting for surgery only, refusing chemo and radiation, choosing to take supplements in order to avoid a reoccurrence. I had a 3 month window between dx and surgery and saw the supplements that I took during that time improve my symptoms.

As for diet, stay away from 'white stuff' like flour, sugar etc. Eat/drink as organically as you can afford.... keep blood sugar spikes to a minimum ('Entering the Zone' by Dr. Barry Sears is a good book to read to help with this) and

clean getting rid of toxic cleaners and hygiene products. This will help the immune system. When drilled down to it's basic premise, cancer is the result of a compromised immune system. That is an over-simplification but true, nevertheless. Prayers for you and your mother, my friend.

ps. to show how woefully ignorant (willfully or not) doctors are about diet and cancer, orange juice, soda and donuts are often offered to cancer patients while they are receiving chemo treatments. How crazy is that?

Hi Phoenix. My mum had breast cancer 8 years ago and had radiation afterwards . The lung cancer she got was directly behind where she had breast cancer , coincidence ? hmmmm . Now they're offering chemo with a 5% success rate on the 60% it reoccurs in .

My mums been eating a good diet with increased magnesium in her diet and a supplement ....... the chest specialist was gobsmacked when she walked in to his office on 18th june (4 weeks after surgery) and said she'd recovered tremendously after surgery and her saturations were 99% !

I agree with you on the cancer/immune system as I read loads before my mums operation ...... she's been through a lot of operations and alot of stress which hasn't helped .

I'm not one for loads of cleaners anyway and nore is my mum . I don't even use underarm deodorant anymore ........... I've come a long way in the past 3 months and because of that I'm able to help my mum in her recovery, shes 75 yrs old and I want her here for a lot longer .

Good for you and your mum. She sounds like one tough lady !! I wouldn't presume to tell anyone what to do but 5 % doesn't sound like very good odds, considering that chemo usually totally destroys one's immune system. Depending on the chemo drug used, there are often supplements that can offset the effects of the drugs.

It is said that attitude is everything and I think that is especially true when it comes to fighting cancer.

I know, 5 % isn't alot , I asked for more studies but thats the only one she had . The exact figures are (within 5 years)

15% recovered after no chemo. 60 % died of it , 25 died of something else.

5% of the 60 % recovered with chemo.

so thats 40 % that didn't die of it ? . I wanted to know how many of those 15% change diet or stay the same , did anything different .......... she didnt have that info ............. why ??? I don't think she liked me .......... surely there are more studies or there should be studies , then people can decide on all the facts !

sorry rant over ( it is frustrating though that they treat you worse than a vet would a dog )

She is very strong , i've seen her go through quite a few ops since 2006 and i'm so determined to do my best as she really does deserve it


Paula... you rant anytime you want to, okay? Because it is frustrating and frightening. We feel like we are on our own. Here in the states, docs don't dare suggest anything but slash/burn/poison (surgery, radiation or chemo. At least here, we can research and try out various supplements.... some pretty good, some are useless and not everything works for everyone all the time or we wouldn't have cancer, would we?

yes well said ! All i can do is support and lead her on the right path and the rest is in gods hands . Shes a great believer in ' you have a day to come into this world and a day to go out ......... thank you for your input , its lovely chatting to you ! It sounds like you did the right thing with taking supplements opposed to the chemo/radiation, i've read alot on having it can cause it to come back more aggressive !

Hey, kiddo. I don't think it comes back more aggressively necessarily but... chemo never kills all the cancer cells and those cells that are left become really tough to kill. It isn't like you have poked a hornet's nest and got them mad at you, ya know?

All of us have stray cancer cells in our bodies at any given time and our immune system usually dispatches them pretty quick. It makes more sense to me that when a person's immune system is destroyed or compromised with chemo, there is nothing left to mop up those stray cancer cells so they grow.

There was a PBS special a few years back with an hypothesis that a 'mother' tumor sends out signals that inhibits the growth of any stray cancer cells. When that tumor is removed , no more inhibition and all those stray cancer cells 'take up residence' so to speak and start growing. I haven't heard too much about that anymore but it does make sense. I am not sure that it is true for every tumor or in every situation.

Anyhow, I think the immune system is key to fighting cancer and it sounds like you and your mum are doing a good job on that front. Your mum's quick bouce-back from surgery proves that.

Take care and again, prayers to you and mum. :)

Yes that really does all make sense and the immune system is definitely the key. I've learnt so much this past few months . Going gluten free and getting rid of my asthma was amazing but the huge bonus is that its changed how my brain works , my vitality , the energy I have , how i deal with day to day stresses , everything seems that much easier and most of all coping with a 3 year old daughter with a huge appetite for learning and getting her own way ! lol . I can't believe now , im out of bed before her in the morning ! Its 7.40am here and shes still in bed,,,,,,, better go wake her up !

Thank you so much for your advice its been so helpful !

Take care

greygoose profile image
greygoose in reply to paula222uk

Absolutely agree, paula, it is all about money.

in reply to phoenix23002

Wow! Never heard that one before.Does anyone know how the Chinese treat Thyroid problems ?

phoenix23002 profile image
phoenix23002 in reply to

Marfit.. that system the Chinese used was true back in the day. They have westernized a lot of their practices so, it's probably not something they practice anymore. I do think the Chinese still use herbs to treat so many things and are more holistically-minded than Western docs.

I belong to a cancer site on yahoo. One of the doctors on the site developed colon cancer. He actually went to China for a month or so to be treated with protocols he couldn't get/use in the states. It bought him time for his other treatments to kick in. It has been 4 - 5 yrs now and he is doing fine (knock on wood).

in reply to phoenix23002

Thanks Phoenix.......yes...everything moves on at such a pace these was just an interesting thought that there was another way!! We have started our own herb garden as recommended by a surgery nurse to use for flavouring when wanting to cut the nasty artificial sauces out of food and still make meals tasty when dieting......

Very heartening to hear about the doctor on your cancer site and long may his recovery continue.

paula222uk profile image
paula222uk in reply to

Its worth a surf on the net to find out ! I will put it on my ' to do ' list as you've got me curious now . I have so many at the moment i need to write a list :)

Totally agree, phoenix!

paula222uk profile image
paula222uk in reply to greygoose

I agree with you there !

They really don't have the time , doctors are so booked up you only get 10 mins ,,,,,,,,,, seriously how is that enough time to discuss your history of a problem in detail ! its a total utter mess !

If we used functional medicine it would cut down the load so people get proper help when they need to .

You are so right. But, can you imagine how you would have to change the mindset of the bureaucrats and the doctors? Many doctors are nothing but glorified drug pushers.

Remember the good old days when doctors answered to no one or anything but their own consciences and their patients? A bad doctor would soon run out of patients and good doctors would have overflowing waiting rooms. And the incentive to enter medicine wasn't money-driven. Not that that is the case with the majority of doctors but it is true for too many.

Until we get back to some sort of system that removes the bureaucrat and the 'rules' that come between a doctor and his/her patient, nothing will change. In fact, common sense tells us that the situation will only worsen.

The problem is if it continues as it has for the past 20 years , somethings got to snap ? they can't cope now let alone for it to get worse !I will keep saying it ............. we can men on the moon but we can't sort out the NHS, it really is ridiculous, !!

It is ridiculous. As for getting worse? I think it is there if the 'powers that be' have to resort to playing mind games with patients by putting price tags on their prescriptions. That is just silly, in my opinion and an act of desperation that just adds more costs. A typical bureaucratic 'solution'. They worry about the ember at the front of the house and ignore the flames burning up the back of the house.

GPs don't even notice whether you fill the prescription or not. I stopped getting my steroid inhaler prescription in the late 1980s after getting bad oral thrush all the time and anyway it never made any difference. Still got the other inhaler. Both were on the prescription, I just told the chemist each time only to give me the one. Every year in the review I said I wasn't taking it. In 2010, the GP did the review instead of the nurse and was horrified that I wasn't taking it and insisted that I would wake up breathless in the night etc. No one had noticed that I hadn't had it for 30 years with no ill effects.


wow doesn't surprise me at all. How often do they look at our notes to see whats going on ? only when we go to the docs and then its a quick look as they don't have the time. I was told to go back in 3 mths ? why ? if im off meds why would i want to go back to waste their and my time ! It would free up an appointment for someone else that needs it ! It's not rocket science is it ! (another of my favourite sayings hehe )

This is a bug bear of mine - getting called in for so many appointments. As a matter of course GPs seem to want you to come back multiple times with the same set of symptoms before they will act "let's see how you are in a few weeks", "I'm already telling you it's been going on for months".

As a person with serious fatigue I don't want my energy wasted. But equally why do they want to waste their own time?

Where I live appointments are hard to come by , you have to wait 2 to 3 weeks . So you would think they wouldn't do unnecessary appointments . I guess they have guidelines they have to keep to . Makes no sense to me in an overpopulated doctors that are bursting at the seams ! They've already introduced phone appointments as they can't cope.

Going back about 14 years ago i paid a yearly fee for an online doctor to talk to as I was having panic attacks and anxiety. I could phone them day and night . For the cost it was fantastic and really helped me out at the time , maybe I should look into that again as maybe I'd get better outcome than overworked doctors who are on a time limit and spend more time looking at the computer than talking to you !

opps another rant but I can come up with some good ideas when im letting off steam :)

They wouldn't wish to display the cost of synthetic Levothyroxine said to be the only medication needed for thyroid problems,even though it leaves many people feeling so bad they can't use it ...........would they?

helvella profile image
helvellaAdministrator in reply to

The only reason I can see for the £20 cut-off is to avoid patients feeling ripped off by the prescription charge when the medicine itself is inexpensive - as with levothyroxine.

The system itself manages to inflate the cost to the NHS of levothyroxine by insisting on one and two month prescriptions. The cost of the doctor signing and the administrative burden means that six or twelve prescriptions a year will be much more expensive than two or three. Not as if there is any form of review for most patients.

I trust there'll be suitable stickers applied to Whitehall iPads and meals. I might send an appropriate selection to my MP...

Normally I wouldn't have bothered with even reading this ............ but recently I reduced and have now stopped all asthma medication. My belief now is that we should start changing things in our national health (its a mess anyway , can't get appointments,too many people for them to even cope) . We should be adopting a functional medicine approach , treat the underlying cause and not just the symptoms which will keep you on medication for a long time and then create other problems which you will then need to see a doctor more and more !! This is well worth a read !!! >>>>>>

I'd say to anyone , if you can't figure things out yourself and you're suffering , if its effecting the quality of your life .... find someone, even if you have to find the money to pay for it . As in the long term you're the only person who will benefit and it could change your life !!!

Best wishes


I can see a number of issues here ,...

1 ] if by supplying via prescription [ that cost of prescription to nhs is say £15 ] the item can be purchased 'over the counter ' for £2 , why can the gp not provide an internal fund to cover for these costs ----- some that come to mind are paracetamol [tabs & linctus ], vit d supplements some topical creams etc -----as these type of prescriptions have a larger cost to gp's than any other .

2 ] if gp's were to be paid by results of diagnosis , with patients taken into account this would then begin to make significant headway in the miss-prescribed sector that seems to prevail .... most of us have been told by the gp '' 'we' will try this and see how it goes suck it and see attitude '' only to try something else totally different some time later .

3 ] if the gp's were to be held to account for prescribing unnesessary meds that have no effect on the condition through incorrect diagnosis or knowledge [ remembering that if they are not entirely sure they can refer to someone that is sure , this would have yet another major cost saving on prescription costs .

These are but 3 of the many issues that immediately come to my mind .

this is , in my view , yet another politically motivated move to throw a guilt trap onto the patients so that if they are aware that their meds are a relatively astronomical cost the patient will cut down on taking some of the meds .....this would be a false saving as somewhere along the way this would make the patient even worse and therefor mean more meds provided and therefor even more costs .


Quite agree, alangardner. Whatever happens, the patient is the only one to suffer, but it's usually the patient that gets the blame! How can you 'shame' people with things like cancer, when the medication is bound to be expensive, yet it's not the patients fault. What is he supposed to say? 'oh, well, if it's costing the tax payer that much, I think I'll just curl up and die'? Totally ludicrous.

shall we call that point 4 ] ........ it appears to me to be yet even more political bunkum to cover the underlying problems with smoke and mirrors so that the decision makers can never be held to answer for incompetence ......... typical civil servant mentality ---- come back Humphrey Appleby & jim hacker methinks .....alan

Exactly! lol

And how much is this going to cost to set up and implement? Instead of shaming/blaming patients for being sick (and I can just see someone of my mother's generation refusing to go to the doctor with a problem because they already have such expensive medication, or continuing to take something that's making them worse instead of going back to the doctor and talking about it), why not examine the many different reasons for non-compliance and tackle some of those?

Perhaps they could look at the fact that many patients either don't understand the reason for the medication or don't have the right expectations regarding progress and outcome. But tackling that that woudn't fit into a ten minute appointment, would it? (Not GP bashing here; just the system.)

Or, just a thought, why not look at procurement guidelines and do something about bringing down the price of medications? T3 is an obvious and shameful example that I happen to know about; I'm sure it's not alone.

I'm on a lot of prescription drugs. I can only get monthly prescriptions which is ridiculous for someone like me. I've been managing my drugs for 12 years now

I never order a blanket repeat prescription. I go though my container of drugs and only order what I need, I've always done this. What's the point of stockpiling, you need storage for that anyway!

I think Jeremy Hunt should be looking more at rip off drug manufacturers as a starting point!

I've noticed more and more GP's attitude to costs, and they do really seem to begrudge everything from tests to drugs.

Of course it doesn't help that the NHS doesn't get payment back when treating people from overseas. It's about time we insisted on people visiting here having health insurance.

Do you not have the system in the UK whereby any unused drugs can be returned to the pharmacy?

That's the system we have in France. If they're out of date, the pharmacy disposes of them safely. If they're still usable, I think they give them to Médecins sans Frontière - the doctors that work in third world countries and where there are catastrophies.

I expect people could find a lot to criticise in this practice, but it seems to work. It avoids waste. Seems like a good idea to me - better than hanging on to them for years or putting them in the dustbin.

the system in the u.k. is ......any patient can return any medicines directly to any pharmacy that have not been used , but the pharmacy HAVE NO OPTION BUT TO SEND ALL MEDS FOR INCINERATION .....because the law states that once the meds leave a pharmacy there may be a risk of outside contamination and as such a legal recourse to the pharmacy in the case of anything going wrong ........and no pharmacy would be willing to take the responsibility. I have questioned this in the past ,but , with todays 'cash for cash fault finding legal eagles ' no pharmacy is going to take the chance ......I agree with you ---- don't sell them === donate them === I am damn certain that at least 90%+ would find a more constructive use '''''somewhere''''' and do a damn site more good than now ........alan

helvella profile image

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