Prescription drugs up 70%

The number of prescribed drugs has risen by almost 70% over the past decade, according to a new report.

Prescriptions Dispensed in the Community; England, Statistics for 2000 to 2010 found that a total of £9bn was spent on medicines dispensed to patients this year.

Tim Straughan, Chief Executive, NHS Information Centre, says the report highlights the “significant cost” of prescription drugs to the NHS.

An average of 17.8 prescription items were dispensed per person last year, compared to 11.2 ten years before.

There were 927 million prescriptions issued in 2010, compared to 552 million items given out in 2000, with the average cost per head rising from £113 in 2000 to £169 in 2010.

Cardiovascular drugs, such as statins that lower cholesterol, and ACE inhibitors to lower blood pressure are the most frequently prescribed.

The rising number of people with diabetes – up 75% in four years – is the most expensive condition to treat, resulting in more than £713million worth of medicine last year.

Reasons for the increase could lie in longer life-expectancy, as well as the growth in obesity causing more people to develop diabetes.

These new figures were released a day after the Family Doctor Association alleged that four in five GPs were prescribing drugs to patients suspected to be addicted to them.