LONDON, November 19 /PRNewswire/ -- The real test of the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS) agreement announced by the Department of Health today will be whether it delivers improved access to new medicines and creates savings in the NHS that can be spent on patient care, according to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB).

RPSGB President, Steve Churton, says: We are pleased that an agreement on PPRS has been reached - but also urge that any change takes into account the current shortages of medicines that we are experiencing as a direct response to the current economic downturn. It is important that these shortages are not exacerbated by price changes.

Generics substitution is routinely carried out and works effectively in most hospitals in the UK. There is also already a high level of generic prescribing in General Practice in the UK. However a number of medicines either have no generic equivalent, or generic substitution is not appropriate, e.g. in slow release formulations.

Pharmacists are the health experts in medicines and the RPSGB is committed to the provision of appropriate and effective high quality medicines. There needs to be clear guidance for prescribers and pharmacists on when it is appropriate to have generic substitution and patients must be provided with relevant advice and reassurance from their pharmacist.

The RPSGB intends to bring together prescribers, pharmacists, Government, industry and patients to develop unified professional standards on generic substitution and to ensure that effective treatment is not compromised.

Notes to Editors

Generic Medicines

Generic medicines are produced to high production standards and the licensing process ensures that they have an equivalent therapeutic effect to the branded product. They may be significantly less expensive than the branded equivalent. This enables the NHS to spend the savings on other patient care.

Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme

The Department for Health announcement about the new Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme agreement can be viewed at:

About the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB)

The RPSGB is the professional and regulatory body for pharmacists in England, Scotland and Wales. It also regulates pharmacy technicians on a voluntary basis, which is expected to become statutory under anticipated legislation. The primary objectives of the RPSGB are to lead, regulate, develop and represent the profession of pharmacy.

The RPSGB leads and supports the development of the profession within the context of the public benefit. This includes the advancement of science, practice, education and knowledge in pharmacy. In addition, it promotes the profession's policies and views to a range of external stakeholders in a number of different forums.

Following the publication in 2007 of the Government White Paper Trust, Assurance and Safety - The Regulation of Health Professionals in the 21st Century, the RPSGB is working towards the demerger of its regulatory and professional roles. This will see the establishment of a new General Pharmaceutical Council and a new professional body for pharmacy in 2010.

For further information about the RPSGB visit the website

For media enquiries please contact the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain's Public Relations Unit +44-(0)20-7572-2336