The number of prescription items dispensed in England has increased by 58.5% since 2003, according to a new Health and Social Care Information Center (HSCIC) analysis. Over 1.03 billion items were prescribed in 2013, compared to 649.7 million in 2003.
The Prescriptions Dispensed in the Community 2003-2013 report looks at prescriptions dispensed in England by community pharmacists, appliance contractors, dispensing doctors and prescriptions for items administered in GP practices. The number of prescription items topped one billion for the first time in 2012, and the latest data for 2013 shows that this has increased by a further 3% (29.6 million), reports HSCIC.
The overall Net Ingredient Cost (NIC) of prescriptions has increased by only 14.8% since 2003. In 2013, the overall NIC of prescriptions stood at $14.7 billion, compared to $12.8 billion in 2003 and $14.6 billion in 2012.
Of all prescription items, 90% are dispensed free of charge. The report shows 59.5% of these free items were dispensed to patients claiming an age exemption of 60 years and over, which accounted for 50.5% of overall NIC, and 4.7% were dispensed to patients claiming an age exemption of under 16, or full-time students aged 16-18, which accounted for 6.8% of the overall NIC.
The report also shows in 2013:
Kingsley Manning, HSCIC chair said, "The finding that over 60s accounted for almost 60% of the free prescriptions, which in turn make up 90% of all prescriptions, will help the NHS to understand the provision required for the aging population in England.”