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16.03.18

Over one billion community prescriptions dispensed as ‘inevitable’ rise continues

The number of prescription items dispensed in the community in England increased last year, according to NHS Digital’s latest figures.

In 2017, 1.1 billion items were dispensed, which was up by 0.15% compared to 2016.

However, despite this increase, the cost of prescriptions dispensed in the community decreased by 0.41% from £9.2bn in 2016 to £9.17bn in 2017.

The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) has said that an increase in the number of prescriptions issued by GPs is “inevitable” as patients are living longer.

Chair of the RCGP, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, said: “It is testament to advances in medical research, public health and the tireless work of our NHS that people are now living longer, however, this also means that people are living long enough to develop conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.”

She explained that healthcare providers have a responsibility to offer the right medication to patients to manage these conditions and reduce their risk of heart attack or stroke in the future.

“For those living with multiple, complex conditions, this can sometimes mean being prescribed a variety of drugs to help them manage their health and reduce the risk of complications,” she added.

But, the chair explained that GPs also explore alternatives to pharmacological treatments, such as lifestyle changes for patients, however, where medication is appropriate she said that “GPs use evidence-based prescribing guidelines to help them select the right drug and will carefully consider whether those drugs work safely in combination with other medications that a person may be taking - and also undertake regular reviews, in consultation with their patients.”

Top image: alvarez

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