Call to end prescribing of gluten-free food

BRITAIN’s National Health Service (NHS) is paying out millions of dollars for people with coeliac disease to purchase gluten-free products from pharmacies, even though the foods have been freely available in supermarkets for years, according to an editorial in Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin.

NHS prescriptions for gluten-free staples such as bread were introduced in the 1960s when the condition was rare. But in 2011, GPs wrote out scripts for food costing the NHS £27 million, the commentators said.

The supply of gluten-free food should not be a medical issue, the Bulletin said, adding it was also timely to consider the health impact of vouchers being used to buy gluten-free cakes, cake-mixes and sweet biscuits.

Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin 2013; 51:13