HC Deb 01 July 1999 vol 334 cc280-2W
Mr. Bruce George

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if lists of products appearing on the Prodigy prescribing system have been circulated to relevant patients and specialist groups for their views; and what formal consultation process exists in respect of such products; [89104]

(2) what plans he has for the further use of the Prodigy prescribing system by GPs; [89100]

(3) what account the Prodigy prescribing system takes of existing clinical guidelines; [89099]

(4) what consultations his Department has undertaken in respect of the Prodigy prescribing support system in the last two years; [89098]

(5) what method was used to select the products which appear on the Prodigy prescribing system; [89105]

(6) if he will list the members of the selection panel for products on the Prodigy prescribing system; [89102]

(7) what assessment he has made of GPs' views on the Prodigy prescribing system. [89101]

Mr. Denham

The Prodigy decision support system has undergone two research phases, during which it was tested in 183 general practices with around 750 doctors. The results of the research indicated that a large proportion of general practitioners were very interested in having such a tool available for their use. In light of this positive response, a first release version of Prodigy will be made available to any GP who wants it. There will be a third phase of the research project, which will look at the management of chronic disease.

Prodigy is designed to offer good quality, clinically effective advice to GPs. When applying the Prodigy recommendations, doctors should use their discretion and clinical judgment, taking into account individual patient variations and needs. General practitioners remain free to prescribe whichever product they feel is the most appropriate for their patients.

The recommended treatments in Prodigy have been chosen on the basis of clinical effectiveness, safety and appropriateness. Where more than one drug exists with similar clinical effect, or where the benefits of one drug over another are marginal, then cost is brought into consideration. The clinical advice contained in the current release of Prodigy is refined and validated with the assistance of a committee of representatives from the General Practitioners Committee, the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain. All were chosen for the personal expertise and qualities they were able to bring to the process. For the longer term, an equally robust process will be set up under the oversight of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE). Full details of how NICE will take this forward will be published in due course. Prodigy guidance takes full account of existing national or well-recognised guidelines, where these are appropriate to general medical practice. In time, Prodigy will allow easy access to NICE guidance and a swift means of communicating emergency medical messages to GPs, plus information about new drugs, contra-indications and safety alerts.

Patient groups, the pharmaceutical industry and other representative organisations have been consulted throughout the Prodigy project, both on the content of the clinical guidance and on patient information leaflets available as part of the Prodigy system. Each organisation is given the opportunity to comment on new Prodigy recommendations as they are developed and their views are taken into account at the time the recommendations are finalised. These groups will continue to be consulted as Prodigy is made more widely available to GPs over the coming months.

Mr. Bruce George

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what skin products appear on the Prodigy prescribing system; and how they were selected. [89103]

Mr. Denham

A list of the skin products which appear in, or are being considered for inclusion in, the Prodigy guidance on skin conditions, will be placed in the Library. The majority of these dermatology topics have not yet been released to general practitioners as they are undergoing final amendments (the status of each Prodigy guidance topic is indicated in the schedule).

All products are selected on the basis of clinical effectiveness, safety and appropriateness.