HSE Medicines Management Programme Preferred Drug Initiative launches two new Preferred Drugs

- Beta blockers (blood pressure lowering medicines)

- Calcium channel blockers (blood pressure lowering medicines)

The HSE Medicines Management Programme (MMP) was established in 2013 under the leadership of Prof. Michael Barry with the aim to promote safe, effective and cost-effective prescribing among GPs. The MMP has undertaken a number of initiatives aimed at enhancing evidence-based and cost-effective prescribing nationally.

One such initiative is the Preferred Drugs initiative, which identifies a single ‘preferred drug’ within a therapeutic drug class, and offers prescribers useful guidance on selecting, prescribing and monitoring this drug for a particular condition. Prescribers are encouraged to make the preferred drug their drug of first choice when prescribing a drug from that therapeutic class. The two new Preferred Drugs being launched this month are in the drugs classes of beta blockers and calcium channel blockers. 

To date, eight Preferred Drugs have been selected by the Medicines Management Programme and, with the additional two being launched this month, this brings the number to ten.  These 10 drug groups account for 25% of total prescribing on the General Medical Services (GMS) scheme. Choosing a Preferred Drug will benefit a large number of patients and provide cost savings without impacting on patient care.


The HSE is asking prescribers to choose the Preferred Drug when prescribing medicines from these therapeutic classes as a first line choice.


“If we choose better value medicines, we can make savings to fund other areas of the health service. For example, if we prescribe any other statin in preference to rosuvastatin and, if we choose any other PPI in preference to esomeprazole (or rabeprazole), savings of over €5.7 million per year can be achieved. At a time of increasing demand on our health service we need to make the right choices”, said Professor Michael Barry.


Total expenditure on these ten therapeutic areas was €253 million in 2014 which represents a quarter of the total GMS expenditure.


The Preferred Drug Initiative currently covers the following therapeutic areas:

·         Statins (cholesterol lowering medicines)

·         Proton Pump Inhibitors (to reduce acid production in the stomach)

·         ACE Inhibitors and ARBs (blood pressure lowering medicines)

·         SSRIs and SNRIs (drugs used to treat depression)

·         Urology medicines (to treat urinary incontinence, frequency and overactive bladder)

·         Oral anticoagulants (medicines to thin the blood)

The two recent areas evaluated are:

·         Beta blockers (blood pressure lowering medicines)

·         Calcium channel blockers (blood pressure lowering medicines)


Last updated on: 20 / 09 / 2016