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Publication, Part of

Statistics on Alcohol, England 2020

Official statistics, National statistics

National Statistics

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 is extracted from a data warehouse hosted by NHS Prescription Services, which is part of the NHS Business Services Authority. NHS Prescription Services process prescriptions in order to reimburse dispensers.

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.


Total prescription items dispensed – last 10 years

The number of prescription items dispensed in England in 2018 was 170 thousand which was 2% lower than the 173 thousand prescription items in 2017 but 27% higher than 2008.

This is the third successive year on year decrease.


Type of prescription items dispensed

133 thousand items of Acamprosate Calcium were dispensed in 2018 which is 1% lower than in 2017 but 58% higher than the number dispensed ten years ago.

35 thousand items of Disulfiram were dispensed in 2018 which is similar to 2017. The peak was 61 thousand in 2012. 

1,600 items of Nalmefene (introduced in 2013) were dispensed in 2018 which is 35% lower than 2017.


Prescription items dispensed by region

North of England dispensed 68 thousand prescription items (46% of all items).

London dispensed the lowest number of items (12 thousand).

Note: region totals exclude Non-CCG cost centres which include trusts, councils and private company providers and are not linked to CCGs but are funded directly by Area Teams.


Prescription items dispensed by CCG, per 100,000 population

NHS Salford dispensed the highest number of items (1,327 per 100,000).

NHS Ashford dispensed the lowest number of items (13 per 100,000).


Total cost of prescription items dispensed

The total Net Ingredient Cost (NIC) for items prescribed for alcohol dependence in 2018 was £4.32 million. 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.

This is 2% lower than in 2017.



Average NIC per item

The average NIC per item for all pharmacotherapy items was £25.

The average per item was £20 for Acamprosate Calcium, £45 for Disulfiram (up from £22 in 2015) and £60 for Nalmefene.

Last edited: 25 February 2020 2:29 pm