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Prescriptions of antidepressants up for fourth year in a row

The number of antidepressants dispensed in England in 2016 has increased by 6% from the previous year, according to data from NHS Digital.

Last year there were 64.7 million prescription items for antidepressants dispensed in the community, compared with 61 million in 2015.

It means that it is the fourth consecutive year with a numerical increase in the number of antidepressant prescriptions and antidepressants are the class of prescription items with the greatest year increase.

The report, which includes data from 2006 to 2016, shows that over the past decade the overall number of items dispensed in the community has increased by 46.8%, while the number of antidepressants dispensed has more than doubled, increasing by 108.5%.

However, the areas with the greatest increase in costs from 2015 were anticoagulants and protamine. The dispensing costs based on net ingredient cost (NIC) rose by £76.6m to £298.7m, up 34.5% from the previous year.

The data show that the greatest number of items dispensed come from drugs used to treat hypertension and heart failure, with 71.5 million items. And drugs to treat diabetes cost the most at £984.2 million.

Overall, the number of items dispensed in England rose 1.9% to 1,104.1 million. And while the NIC of all prescription items is down by 0.7% on 2015 at £9,204.9m, this is 12.3% higher than in 2006.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20203094

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