3.9 million more items of antidepressant drugs dispensed in 2015 than in 2014
A report published today by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC)1 shows that, of all BNF drug categories2, prescriptionitems3 forantidepressantssaw the greatest numericrise in 2015.
The report Prescriptions Dispensed in the Community 2005-20154 shows that the number of antidepressant5 items prescribed and dispensed in England has more than doubled in the last decade. In 2015, there were 61.0 million antidepressant items prescribed – 31.6 million (107.6 per cent) more than in 2005 and 3.9 million (6.8 per cent) more than in 2014.
The Net Ingredient Cost (NIC)6 of antidepressants has also increased in the past year, rising by £19.7 million (7.4 per cent) to £284.7 million, however this is £53.8 million (15.9 per cent) lower than in 2005.
This means that in 2015, antidepressants cost the NHS £780,000 per day.
The report also finds that:
- More than 1.08 billion prescription items were dispensed overall in 2015. This is a 1.8 per cent increase on the previous year, and a 50.4 per cent increase on the same figure a decade ago.
- The NIC for all prescriptions dispensed in 2015 was £9.27 billion. This is a 4.7 per cent increase on the previous year, and a 16.8 per cent increase on the same figure a decade ago.
- For the ninth year running, drugs used to treat diabetes7 continued to cost the NHS the most. Costs for this category, from 2014 to 2015, increased by £87.6 million to £936.7 million. In 2015, the NHS spent more than £2.6 million per day on drugs to treat diabetes. The number of items dispensed for 2015 was 49.1 million, which was an increase of 2.4 million (5.1 per cent) from 2014.
- Categories with large cost increases between 2014 and 2015 included anticoagulants and protamine9 (blood thinning drugs), for which costs rose by £83.5 million (a 60.3 per cent increase) to £222.2 million, and antiepileptics10, for which costs rose by £37.9 million (a 7.8 per cent increase) to £524.4 million.
- Following antidepressants, the therapeutic area with the second greatest increase from 2014 to 2015 for number of items prescribed and dispensed was antisecretory drugs and mucosal protectants11, used to prevent and treat gastro-intestinal ulcerations, of which 3.1 million more items were dispensed. Prescription items for this category have also more than doubled in the last decade, from 26.9 million to 60.8 million (a 125.4 per cent increase).
- There were also categories of medicine where the number of items dispensed decreased. Most noticeably, antibacterial drugs12 (the main category of antibiotics), saw a 5.6 per cent fall in the number of prescription items dispensed, with 39.4 million items provided in 2015 – down from 41.7 million the previous year.
- In 2015, 89.7 per cent of all prescription items were dispensed free of charge8. In more detail, of all prescription items:
- 60.4 per cent were dispensed free of charge to those aged 60 and over.
- 4.5 per cent were dispensed free of charge to all children aged under 16, and to those aged 16-18 and in full-time education.
- 24.8 per cent were dispensed free of charge for the remaining exemption categories, including medical conditions (see Notes to editors).
The full report is at: