Jeremy Hunt to shame patients with cost of NHS drugs

Prescription medicines will be labelled by price and marked "funded by taxpayers" from next year, under controversial new plans to reduce costs in the NHS.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said in a speech today that patients need to take "more personal responsibility for use of precious public resources."

"There is no such thing as a free health service," he told the Local Government Association conference.

"We spend £300 million a year on wasted medicines. People who use our services need to know that in the end they pay the price for this waste.

"So today I can announce that we intend to publish the indicative medicine costs to the NHS on the packs of all medicines costing more than £20, which will also be marked 'funded by the UK taxpayer'

Hunt believes this will "reduce waste by reminding people of the cost of medicine".

However, he is likely to face claims that the change is designed to undermine support for the NHS.

Concerns have previously been expressed that indicative charges could discourage some patients from using medicines prescribed to them.