QIPP plans to reduce spending on medicines are making better progress than any of the other major workstreams, HSJ’s analysis has shown.

In total, 42 out of 52 primary care trust clusters have a medicines management QIPP workstream. Between them they plan to cut spending by £389m over the next three years, equivalent to 9 per cent of all planned local QIPP savings. Eighty four per cent of these workstreams were given a progress rating of “green”, compared with 58 per cent of demand management schemes for non-elective care and 52 per cent for elective care.

Clamping down on variation in GP prescribing and increasing the use of generic drugs are the main targets for savings.

Other frequently cited proposals for saving money include reviewing prescriptions for patients in care homes, alignment of primary and secondary care formularies and a crackdown on waste.

Reducing the use of antipsychotic drugs was highlighted by clusters including Surrey, while a number aimed to reduce spend on wound dressings.

Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry chief executive Stephen Whitehead warned against “disproprotionately” targeting the medicines budget. “Cutting [pioneering drugs’] use could actually be counterproductive and lead to a fall in health standards as well as a rise in the number of patients needing expensive hospital care,” he said.

A number of PCT clusters highlighted plans to review prescription of statins such as Warfarin. Surrey plans to reduce the number of stroke admissions by standardising prescription of anti-coagulation drugs.

Clare Howard, the Department of Health’s QIPP lead on medicines use, said this was the kind of “transformational change” the workstream hoped to achieve. She urged backed reviews of medicines use and new medicines to ensure the maximum benefit from drugs was realised.

“We are trying to ensure it’s not just focused on the primary care prescribing budget. [By changing prescribing practices] we can reduce admissions and do some of the big transformational changes,” she said.