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Dispensed prescription items increased by 46 million in 2008

An extra 46 million prescription items were dispensed in the communityin England in 2008 compared with 2007, statistics from the NHSInformation Centre’s prescribing support unit show

An extra 46 million prescription items were dispensed in the community in England in 2008 compared with 2007, from the NHS Information Centre’s prescribing support unit show.

Although the figure covers items dispensed by dispensing doctors and appliance contractors as well as community pharmacies, since community pharmacies constitute the largest group it would equate to approximately an extra 4,000 items per registered pharmacy over the year, or around an extra 350 items per month. The 2008 figure, of 843 million prescription items, represents a 64.1 per cent increase in the number of prescription items compared with 1998.

Less people are doing more work

John Murphy, director of the Pharmacists’ Defence Association, told The Journal that this increase is leading to a trend where “less people are doing more work”, since there is evidence, he says, that a number of pharmacies are cutting back on support staff. This means that patients are being deprived of the healthcare expertise of the pharmacist because they are spending more time dispensing, he added.

Number of items per head increased

The statistics from the prescribing support unit also show that the number of items per head of the population increased from 15.6 in 2007 to 16.4 in 2008. The number of items dispensed without attracting a prescription charge (including prescription items covered by pre-payment certificates, no charge contraceptives and personally administered items in both 2007 and 2008) was 739.6 million.

Generic dispensing for 65 per cent of items

Sixty-five per cent of items were dispensed generically and 82.6 per cent of prescriptions were written generically. Between 2007 and 2008 the net ingredient cost of prescription items fell by £47m (0.6 per cent) to £8,325.5m. The authors of the report attribute this drop to the introduction of the Category M scheme and the associated drop in the cost of Category M medicines, as well as price decreases in earlier years.

The top six BNF chapters, in terms of dispensed prescription items, were nutrition and blood, gastro-intestinal system, respiratory system, endocrine system, central nervous system and cardiovascular system, which accounted for 639 million items.

Cost of ingredients fall for BNF chapters

The net ingredient cost in four of the chapters fell: £18m for items related to the gastro-intestinal system (3.8 per cent drop),  £199m for the cardiovascular system (11 per cent drop), £6m for the central nervous system (0.3 per cent) and £7m for the endocrine system (0.8 per cent).

Prescription items from chapter 4 of the BNF (central nervous system) were associated with the highest overall net ingredient cost (£1,724.2m), whereas chapter 2 (cardiovascular system) was the leading chapter in terms of the number of prescription items dispensed (266.1 million).

When broken down by chapter subsections, drugs used in diabetes accounted for the highest net ingredient cost (£593.3m), whereas drugs used for hypertension had the highest number of prescription items dispensed (57.8 million).

Citation: Electronicjuice URI: 10973779

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