Big rise in antidepressant prescriptions

ANTIDEPRESSANT prescriptions in England increased significantly in 2015, costing the NHS £780,000 a day.

The number of antidepressant items prescribed and dispensed has more than doubled in the last decade, rising from 31.6 million in 2005 to 61 million in 2015. There were almost four million more prescriptions in 2015 compared to the previous year.

However, this pales into comparison with spending on diabetes drugs which hit £937 million in 2015, the equivalent of more than £2.6 million per day. That’s a rise of £88 million on the previous year. In 2015 there were 49 million diabetes items dispensed, an increase of 2.4 million from 2014.

The figures were revealed in a new report from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), Prescriptions Dispensed in the Community 2005-2015.

It showed the “net ingredient cost” of antidepressants increased by more than seven per cent between 2014 and 2015, from £19.7 million to £285 million. However, this is £54 million lower than in 2005.

Overall there were more than one billion prescription items dispensed in 2015 at a cost of £9.3 billion. Prescription numbers increased by 1.8 per cent from 2014 to 2015 and have gone up 50 per cent since 2005. Prescription costs rose almost five per cent in the past year and by nearly 17 per cent since 2005.

Other drugs that have seen big cost increases in the past year include anticoagulants and protamine (60 per cent annual rise to £222 million), and antiepileptics (eight per cent rise to £524 million).

The report also showed a drop in antibacterial drug prescriptions (the main category of antibiotics) of 5.6 per cent between 2014 and 2015. They fell from 42 million to 39 million.

In 2015, almost 90 per cent of all prescription items were dispensed free of charge, with the vast majority (60 per cent) to those aged 60 and over. A quarter were given free to those who qualified under exemption categories and the remaining 4.5 per cent went to under-16s.

The report included prescriptions dispensed by doctors, dentists, nurses and pharmacists.

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