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Antidepressant prescriptions more than double over past decade

The number of antidepressants prescribed and dispensed in the community in England more than doubled over the past decade and accounted for the highest rise in the number of prescribed items in any therapeutic category in 2015, according to figures published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre(HSCIC) on 5 July 2016.

In 2015, 61 million antidepressants were prescribed – 6.8% more than the previous year and a 107.6% rise since 2005, according to the HSCIC report ‘Prescriptions Dispensed in the Community 2005–2015’.

In contrast, the number of antibiotic prescriptions items dispensed decreased by 5.6% from 41.7 million in 2014 to 39.4 million in 2015. It was the second largest fall in any therapeutic area, just behind the 5.7% drop that occurred in prescription items dispensed for oral nutrition.

In total, more than 1.08 billion prescription items were dispensed in 2015, a 1.8% rise on 2014 and just over double the number 10 years ago.

The net ingredient cost for all prescriptions dispensed in 2015 was £9.27bn — a 4.7% increase on 2014 and 16.8% more than in 2005.

The cost of drugs to treat diabetes rose by 10.3% or £87.6m to £936.7m between 2014 and 2015, accounting for the biggest drug cost to the NHS for the ninth year running, while the number of items dispensed to treat diabetes between 2014 and 2015 increased by 5.1%.

In 2015, 89.7% of prescribed items were dispensed for free because patients were exempt from prescription charges, compared with 89.9% for 2014. The largest exemption group were people aged over 60 years (60.4%).

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2016.20201396

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