29 June 2017
Antidepressants saw the greatest numeric rise of all British National Formulary (BNF)2 therapeutic areas for prescription items dispensed in the community in England in 2016, according to a report published today by NHS Digital.
The report Prescriptions Dispensed in the Community 2006-20163shows that for the fourth successive year, prescription items4 for antidepressants5 showed the greatest numeric rise. They increased by 3.7 million items (6.0 per cent), from 61.0 million to 64.7 million between 2015 and 2016.
The number of antidepressant items has more than doubled in the last decade. In 2016, there were 64.7 million antidepressant items dispensed - 33.7 million (108.5 per cent) more than in 2006, when there were 31.0 million.
This report presents a summary of prescription items dispensed in the community in England. It highlights numbers, costs and changes between 2015 and 2016 and presents the main trends between 2006 and 2016 and within therapeutic areas, based on BNF classifications.
The therapeutic area with the greatest number of prescription items dispensed in England in 2016 was for drugs primarily used to treat hypertension and heart failure6.
A total of 71.5 million items in this area were dispensed, an increase from 2015, when 70.8 million items in this area were dispensed, and a rise of 49.7 per cent (23.7 million) from 2006.
Cost7 or Net Ingredient Cost (NIC) is the basic cost of a drug. It does not take account of discounts, dispensing costs, fees or income from prescription charges, so the amount the NHS spent8 will be slightly different.
For the tenth year running, drugs used in diabetes9 cost the most - in 2016, the cost was £984.2 million, or £2.7 million per day. The cost for this therapeutic area increased by £47.6 million (5.1 per cent) from 2015 to 2016.
The number of items dispensed in the community in England in 2016 to treat diabetes was 51.5 million, which was an increase of 2.4 million (4.9 per cent) from 2015.
The therapeutic area with the greatest cost increase between 2015 and 2016 was anticoagulants and protamine10 (blood-thinning drugs), for which costs rose by £76.6 million (34.5 per cent) to £298.7 million.
The report also finds that:
In 2016, 1,104.1 million prescription items were dispensed, an increase of 1.9 per cent, (20.5 million) on prescription items dispensed in 2015. This is a 46.8 per cent (352.2 million) rise on the same figure a decade ago
The NIC of all prescription items dispensed in 2016 was £9,204.9 million. This is a decrease of 0.7 per cent (£61.8 million) on the cost in 2015 but a 12.3 per cent (£1,008.1 million) increase compared to 2006
In 2016, 89.4 per cent of all prescription items were dispensed free of charge11. In more detail, 61.0 per cent were dispensed free of charge to those patients aged 60 and over and 4.4 per cent dispensed free of charge to children aged under 16 or young people aged 16 -18 and in full-time education
Read the full report.