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Hospital pharmacy

Cost of medicines prescribed in hospitals and primary care increases by 4% in one year

The cost of medicines prescribed by hospitals and in primary care has increased by 4% to £18.9bn in 2018/2019.

The annual figures, published by NHS Digital on 14 November 2019, revealed that hospital-prescribed medicines accounted for 54% of the cost — an increase of 11% compared to the previous year — with the rest issued in primary care.

This comes after the 2017/2018 data revealed a 10.8% cost increase in hospital prescribed medicines on the previous year.

However, the cost of medicines prescribed in primary care and dispensed in the community decreased by 3% from £8.9bn to £8.6bn since 2017/2018.

The cost of medicines prescribed in hospitals and dispensed in the community also decreased by 14% from £128m in 2017/2018 to £109m in 2018/2019.

The report from NHS Digital notes that the data do not reflect the amount the NHS paid for the medicines prescribed.

“Cost at list price is the basic cost of a drug, excluding VAT, and is not necessarily the price the NHS paid,” the report said.

“It does not take account of any contract prices or discounts, dispensing costs, fees or prescription charges income, so the amount the NHS paid will be different.”

However, the report added that the “discounted prices are commercially sensitive, so are not publicly available”.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20207336

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