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Addiction. 2004 Nov;99(11):1470-4.

GP prescribing of nicotine replacement and bupropion to aid smoking cessation in England and Wales.

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Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Unit, University College London, London, UK.



Prescribing nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or bupropion for smoking cessation is of considerable importance to public health but little is known about prescribing practices. This paper examines general practitioners' (GPs') prescribing patterns in Britain where these drugs are reimbursed. The results have implications for other health-care systems considering introducing reimbursement.


Postal survey conducted in 2002 of a random sample of 1088 GPs in England and Wales, of whom 642 (59%) responded.


Number of requests GPs reported having received from patients for NRT and bupropion over the past month, the number of prescriptions they reported issuing and ratings of attitudes to these medications.


GPs reported receiving an average of 4.3 requests for NRT and 1.9 for bupropion in the previous month. They reported issuing 3.5 prescriptions for NRT and 1.2 for bupropion. Almost all GPs accepted that NRT (95%) and bupropion (97%) should be reimbursable on National Health Service (NHS) prescription. However, a significant minority of those who received requests for prescriptions did not issue any (8% for NRT and 26% for bupropion). This was related to whether they thought these products should be available on NHS prescription for both NRT and bupropion (OR = 0.66, P < 0.05), which in turn was related to beliefs about whether smokers should have to pay for treatment themselves, the cost-effectiveness of NRT/bupropion and the low priority they would give NRT/bupropion in the drug budget. For bupropion, concern about side-effects independently predicted not prescribing [odds ratio (OR) = 1.46, P < 0.03].


In the British health-care system, which has a well-established system for technology assessment and professionally endorsed guidelines, a significant minority of GPs decline all patient requests for stop-smoking medicines.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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