Antidepressants saw the greatest numeric rise of all British National Formulary (BNF) therapeutic areas for prescription items dispensed in the community in England in 2016, according to a report by NHS Digital.
The report, ‘Prescriptions Dispensed in the Community 2006-2016 ‘, presents a summary of prescription items dispensed in the community in England, highlighting numbers, costs and changes between 2015 and 2016. It also presents the main trends between 2006 and 2016 and within therapeutic areas, based on BNF classifications.
It shows that prescription items for antidepressants showed the greatest numeric rise for the fourth successive year. There was an increase of 6% (3.7 million items) between 2015 and 2016, from 61.0 million to 64.7 million.
The number of antidepressant items has more than doubled in the last decade. In 2016, there were 64.7 million antidepressant items dispensed – 33.7 million (108.5 per cent) more than in 2006, when there were 31.0 million.
The therapeutic area with the greatest number of prescription items dispensed in England in 2016 was for drugs primarily used to treat hypertension and heart failure. A total of 71.5 million items in this area were dispensed, an increase from 2015, when 70.8 million items in this area were dispensed, and a rise of 49.7% (23.7 million) from 2006.
Drugs used in diabetes cost the most for the tenth year running. In 2016, the cost was £984.2 million, or £2.7 million per day. The cost for this therapeutic area increased by £47.6 million (5.1%) from 2015 to 2016.
The number of items dispensed in the community in England in 2016 to treat diabetes was 51.5 million, which was an increase of 2.4 million (4.9%) from 2015.
The therapeutic area with the greatest cost increase between 2015 and 2016 was anticoagulants and protamine (blood-thinning drugs), for which costs rose by £76.6 million (34.5%) to £298.7 million.