National Pharmacy Association responds to overprescribing review

22 Sep 2021

The clinical skills of all pharmacists should be used to tackle the overprescribing of medication, the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has said, in response to a major government-commissioned review into the issue.

Led by Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for England Dr Keith Ridge, the report found 10 per cent of the volume of prescription items dispensed through primary care in England are either inappropriate for that patients’ circumstances and wishes, or could be better served with alternative treatments.

Nick Kaye, Vice Chair at the National Pharmacy Association said: 

“This is a highly significant report.  Medicines are the single most widespread healthcare intervention, so it’s vital that their use is optimised, to help patients and to ensure value for money for the NHS.

“Community pharmacists could play an increasingly important role in ensuring effective prescribing, for example through Structured Medication Reviews and as independent prescribers. That will improve patients’ access to advice and deploy the expertise of pharmacists to good effect. The clinical skills of all pharmacists, not just those working in GP practices, need to be brought to bear further on this important agenda.

“On the flip side of overprescribing is the matter of helping patients get the most from their medicines once dispensed, which is the bread and butter of community pharmacy.  New services like the Discharge Medicines Service and the extended New Medicine Service build on this role significantly. 

“In implementing the report’s recommendations, the principle of shared decision-making will be very important, so that the focus is always on getting the best from medicines and never on denying access to medicines, which serves to exacerbate health inequalities.”

The review, published today, sets out a series of practical and cultural changes to make sure patients get the most appropriate treatment for their needs while also ensuring clinicians’ time is well spent and taxpayer money is used wisely. This includes shared decision making with patients about starting or stopping a medicine, better use of technology, ways to review prescriptions more effectively, and considering alternative medicines which would be more effective.

For further information and to read the recommendations from the report go to