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Part 3: Alcohol-related prescriptions
This section presents information on the number of prescriptions for drugs used to treat alcohol dependence and the Net Ingredient Cost (NIC) of these prescriptions. The data source is Prescription Analysis and Cost (PACT) data from NHS Prescription Services which is collected by NHS Digital.
The number of prescriptions is not the same as the volume of drugs prescribed. There will also be different practice locally on the duration of supply for a prescription.
The NIC is the basic cost of a drug as listed in the Drug Tariff or price lists; it does not include discounts, dispensing costs, prescription charges or fees.
The two main drugs prescribed for the treatment of alcohol dependence are Acamprosate Calcium (Campral) and Disulfiram (Antabuse). In May 2013 a new drug Nalmefene (Selincro) was launched.
Naltrexone is also prescribed for alcohol dependence. It is not included here however, as it can also be used to treat drug dependence and the condition that Naltrexone is prescribed to treat is not available within the PACT data.
Alcohol-related prescription items
Total prescription items dispensed – last 10 years
The number of prescription items dispensed in England in 2017 was 173 thousand which was 8% lower than the 188 thousand prescription items in 2016 but 41% higher than 2007.
This is the second successive year on year decrease.
Type of prescription items dispensed
135 thousand items of Acamprosate Calcium were dispensed in 2017 which is similar to 2016 but 78% higher than the number dispensed ten years ago.
36 thousand items of Disulfiram were dispensed in 2017 which is 28% lower than 2016. The peak was 61 thousand in 2012.
2,500 items of Nalmefene (introduced in 2013) were dispensed in 2017 which is 26% lower than 2016.
Prescription items dispensed by region
North of England dispensed 75 thousand prescription items (44% of all items).
London dispensed the lowest number of items (17 thousand).
Prescription items dispensed by CCG, per 100,000 population
Salford dispensed the highest number of items (1,403 per 100,000).
Horsham and Mid Sussex dispensed the lowest number of items (24 per 100,000).
Total cost of prescription items dispensed
The total Net Ingredient Cost (NIC)2 for items prescribed for alcohol dependence in 2017 was £4.42 million.
This is 9% lower than in 2016 and breaks the recent trend of successive year on year increases.
The decrease in cost has been mainly driven by reduced prescription items for Disulfiram.
Average NIC per item
The average NIC per item for all pharmacotherapy items was £26.
The average per item was £20 for Acamprosate Calcium, £44 for Disulfiram (up from £22 in 2015) and £55 for Nalmefene.
1.The Net Ingredient Cost NIC is the basic cost of a drug as listed in the Drug Tariff or price lists; it does not include discounts, prescription charges or fees.