GMC Decides Not to Relax Its Guidelines to Permit Broader Prescribing of Off-Label and Unlicensed Medicines, Including on Cost-Saving Grounds
Across Europe, as public budgets are tightened, there is pressure to lower spending on prescription medicines. These well-understandable budgetary pressures have led to some controversial suggestions, notably proposals to ease the rules on the prescription of off-label medicines to save costs where off-label drugs are cheaper than the drugs approved for the condition in question. On the whole, these proposals have not been adopted because of concerns about putting cost-cutting ahead of patient safety and because of legal concerns, such as those highlighted by the European Court in Commission v. Poland earlier this year. This article looks at one such example involving the prescription guidance of the UK General Medical Council (GMC) as well as exploring the issue more generally.