Prescription meds increased by over 50% in England 2004-2014

Prescriptions Dispensed in the Community,
England 2004-14

This post content was originally published by HSCICthe national provider of information, data & IT systems for commissioners, analysts and clinicians, in health and social care.

An extra 34.5 million drugs and other prescription items were given out in 2014 compared to the year before, the latest snapshot for England shows. Drugs and Prescriptions image by Seth Anderson.

Over 1.06 billion items were prescribed in 2014, an increase of 3.3 per cent (34.5 m items) on 2013, according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

The 2014 figure also represents an increase of 55.2 per cent on 2004 (378.5 million items).

The overall Net Ingredient Cost (NIC) of prescriptions in 2014 however stood at £8.85 billion, an increase of 2.6 per cent (£227.5 million) from 2013. Since 2004 this figure has increased by 9.6 per cent (£773.0 million).

The Prescriptions Dispensed in the Community 2004-2014 report looks at prescriptions dispensed in England by community pharmacists, appliance contractors, dispensing doctors and prescriptions for items administered in GP practices.

The report shows that the average net ingredient cost per prescription item dispensed in the community decreased by 29.4 per cent since 2004. The average NIC per prescription item fell to £8.32 in 2014 from £8.37 in 2013 and £11.78 in 2004.

Of all prescription items dispensed 89.9 per cent (957.1 million), were dispensed free of charge

Of which:

  • Three in five prescriptions were for patients aged 60 and over which, accounted for 51.2 per cent (£4.53 billion) of the total net ingredient cost for all prescriptions.
  • One in 20 prescriptions were for patients aged under 16 or 16 -18 and in full-time education. This age group accounted for 6.9 per cent (£612.1 million) of the total ingredient cost of all prescriptions.

Prescriptions Dispensed in the Community uses the therapeutic classifications as defined in the British National Formulary (BNF) and is structured to follow the same classifications. Within the report notable changes have been found over the last year in the following areas:

  • There was a rise in the cost of medicines used to prevent blood clots by £44.8 million (47.8 per cent) to £138.6 million. This was mainly driven by the greater use of three new oral anticoagulants, which have recently been introduced alongside warfarin.
  • The cost of medicines used to treat epilepsy also rose, by £46.6 million (10.6 per cent) to £486.5 million. The majority of this additional figure was spent on pregabalin (£36.1million) and much of the remainder on gabapentin (£9.0 million).
  • The cost of medicines used in the treatment of diabetes rose by £55.3 million (7.0 per cent) to £849.1 million.
  • The number of prescription items dispensed also rose by 2.1 million (4.8 per cent) since 2013.
  • Atorvastatin, a medicine which helps to reduce the likelihood of heart attacks and strokes, had the greatest increase in the number of items dispensed with 4.0 million more items since 2013.
  • There were 57.1 million antidepressant medicines dispensed in 2014, a 7.2 per cent increase from 53.3 million in 2013. Since 2004 the number of items dispensed has nearly doubled by 97.1 per cent from 29.0 million.

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