Taxpayers lost £74m when 6.5m doses of an anti-flu drug were written off as being past their shelf life because of poor record-keeping by the health service, the government's auditors have found.
A total of £424m was spent in stockpiling 40m units of Tamiflu between 2006-07 and 2012-13, despite question marks over the effectiveness of the drug, a National Audit Office memo says. Viruses are reported to have developed resistance to the drug in some cases.
Margaret Hodge MP, chair of the public accounts committee, said she was shocked by the amount of money spent on the drug, and by the failure to keep proper records of when and where it had been bought, particularly in the light of disagreement among experts over its ability to reduce complications. "There is simply no excuse for this waste," she said. "It is important that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) assure themselves that they have all clinical trials information. It is essential, not only for the public purse but for public safety, that the Department of Health carefully examine how it stockpiles medicines in the future."