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Changes to lidocaine plaster prescribing

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Tuesday 14 May 2024

As part of the ongoing evaluation of medicines available at public expense the Committee for Health & Social Care, on the advice of the Prescribing and Formulary Panel, is asking doctors to stop or greatly reduce the prescribing of lidocaine plasters.

Lidocaine plasters are applied to the skin and are used for the relief of nerve pain, which can happen after a shingles infection in adults.

Teena Bhogal, Chief Pharmacist, said:

'The evidence supporting the use of lidocaine plasters for nerve pain is limited, and they are relatively expensive compared to other pain treatments, making them less cost-effective. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) does not recommend lidocaine plasters for nerve pain due to insufficient evidence. Additionally, there is no strong evidence that they are effective for other types of pain.

Most patients currently prescribed lidocaine plasters should have had their treatment reviewed. If not, they are encouraged to consult their doctor to explore alternative pain relief options and decide on the best approach together.

Painkillers typically reduce pain by 30% to 50%. Other pain management strategies include massage, ice or heat therapy, and gentle exercise. Lidocaine plasters remain available privately for those willing to self-fund.

In rare cases, lidocaine patches may be prescribed for nerve pain following shingles if all other treatments have failed or are unsuitable, but this must be done by a specialist from a pain clinic.'

The cost of prescribing lidocaine plasters in the last 12 months was more £100,000. Savings made following this change will remain available to fund the significant number of new treatments available to islanders.

The NICE information for patients can be found at: www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg173/ifp/chapter/About-this-information

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