Adventures in time travel with the Drug Tariff

While investigating the data behind Ghost Branded Generics, we came across something that we didn’t expect. As part of our work in creating the Drug Tariff viewer (once we’d managed to obtain the data), we’ve got an archive of Drug Tariff (DT) prices going back to 2010. We used our DT archive to compare listed reimbursement prices with what was actually being paid for generics, we sometimes found that the price paid wasn’t the one listed in the tariff.

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Ghost Branded Generics - Positive News!

Before Christmas we wrote about Ghost Branded Generics, a very nerdy story about a problem we uncovered that costs the NHS………£11.6million a year. Since then we have launched a freely accessible Ghost Branded Generics dashboard on Openprescribing.net for every practice and CCG in the country; and a Ghost Branded Generics measure so practices and CCGs can track their prescribing of Ghost Branded Generics over time. We have also had lots of people get in touch about this whole new category of NHS savings.

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Science and Technology Select Committee Chair Uses EU TrialsTracker Data in Letters to UK Universities

Yesterday, we shared an overview of trial reporting performance for all UK Universities on our EU TrialsTracker and FDAAA TrialsTracker. Today, we are pleased to see this data being put to good use. Following-up on the October 2018 report on clinical trials transparency, the chair of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, Norman Lamb MP, has sent letters to 41 universities with trials registered on the EU Clinical Trials Register (EUCTR).

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Trial Reporting at UK Universities

Our EU TrialsTracker has now been live for four months. As of 10 January 2019, we have identified 8,062 trials registered in Europe that are unambiguously due to report results under EU guidelines; a total of 4,323 (53.6%) trials have reported results to the registry. We have also seen some institutions — for example Kings College London — improve their trial reporting performance dramatically and rapidly. Our BMJ paper showed that non-commercial sponsors (mostly universities) were substantially worse at reporting results to the registry, when compared with drug companies.

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Ghost Branded Generics: A new dashboard on OpenPrescribing

Before Christmas we wrote a nerdy story about Ghost Branded Generics, a problem that costs the NHS £11.6m a year due to prescribers selecting specific manufacturer’s products rather than true generics. This is largely avoidable. Today we launch our Ghost Branded Generics dashboard for every practice and CCG in the country. This can be accessed through every dashboard page (example below) and we think it will be useful to help people change prescriptions from Ghost Branded Generics to true generic prescriptions.

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Ghost branded generics: Why does the cost of generic atorvastatin vary?

This a very nerdy story about a problem that costs the NHS £11.6m a year. It shows how one small design choice in the software GPs use can have huge ramifications for how we prescribe, and a huge cost impact on the NHS. More than that, it shows how problems like these can only be spotted, and addressed, by mixed teams like ours — doctors, pharmacists, researchers and software engineers — pooling our different skills to build tools and papers.

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Dispensing data shows huge variation in Out of Pocket Expenses

Each year, we estimate there are up to £5m of Out of Pocket Expenses (OOPE) expenses charged to the NHS, added by dispensing contractors to their invoices. Could some of these expenses be reduced? In 2014/15 NHS Islington CCG wrote to dispensing contractors highlighting such expenses, and from this single intervention achieved a 50% reduction; spread across the country this could amount to a saving of £2.5m. We’ve done some initial investigations, but don’t have resources to follow up in detail.

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2018 Round-Up

In our third full year of existence we produced even more exciting outputs and continued to grow. We welcomed Lydia Berry, back from maternity leave; Dave Evans, Consultant Programmer, who joined the OpenPrescribing technical team; and Brian MacKenna, an Honorary Research Fellow Pharmacist and member of the NHS England Medicines and Diagnostics Policy Unit. We also welcomed Darren Smyth, a UK and European Patent Attorney - our work so far includes our pregabalin papers (here and here), and he has also contributed to our EUCTR work.

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New Lawsuit Against US Government Cites FDAAA Tracker

Earlier this week, the Media, Freedom & Information Access Clinic at Yale Law School filed a lawsuit against the heads of the Department of Health and Human Services, the NIH, and the FDA over their interpretation and implementation of trial reporting provisions in the FDA Amendments Act of 2007 (FDAAA 2007). The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Charles Seife, a journalist and NYU professor, and Dr. Peter Lurie, President of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

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