Prescription Cost Analysis shows fall in prescription costs

NHS Digital has published a new Prescription Cost Analysis, detailing all NHS prescription items dispensed in the community in England during 2018 and their cost. The analysis includes prescriptions written by GPs and non-medical prescribers such as nurses and pharmacists, as well as those written by dentists and hospital doctors, provided they were dispensed in the community. It excludes prescription items dispensed in hospitals or on private prescriptions as well as any items dispensed outside of England.

Compared with 2017 figures, the total cost of all prescriptions dispensed in 2018 in England decreased by 4%, from £9.2 billion to £8.8 billion. However, this decrease was largely due to a reduction in the average Net Ingredient Cost (NIC) because the total number of prescriptions dispensed in 2018 remained fairly constant at 1.1 billion items.

 In 2018, the highest volume of prescribing was for items included in BNF chapter 2 (cardiovascular system disorders, including arrhythmias, bleeding disorders, hypertension, heart failure, hyperlipidaemia and myocardial ischaemia), with overall volume similar to 2017 figures (about 324 million items in 2018 vs 321 million in 2017). The highest costs were associated with treatments included in BNF chapter 4 (central nervous system disorders, including epilepsy, mental health disorders, movement disorders, pain and sleep disorders), although there was a marked decrease in the total cost of these items compared with the previous year (approximately £1.51 billion in 2018 vs £1.81 billion in 2017).

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