Anti-depressant and anxiety drug use has risen 26 per and cost the health service over £1billion since the start of the economic downturn in 2007, according to research issued today (30 December 2011).
A study by The Co-operative Pharmacy into antidepressant and anxiety drug dispensing across over 150 primary care trusts in England found that in 2010/11 49.8 million items were prescribed, up from 39.5 million items in 2007/08.
However, costs have fallen – down 12 percent from almost £291million in 2007/08 to £258 million in 2010/11.
In 2010/11, the North West had the highest usage of anti-depressants and anxiety medication, with over 8 million items prescribed. It was followed by East of England (5.7m) and Yorkshire and Humber (5.45m)
The biggest increase in use over the last four years has been in the East Midlands up 44 percent from 3 to 4.4million items followed by the North East, up 29 percent from 2.7 to 3.5 million items.
Findings by The Co-operative Pharmacy revealed that between 2007/08 and 2010/11 the NHS has spent £1.071billion on prescribed anti-depressants and anxiety drugs. It has also funded a further £1.073billon on drugs for treating psychoses and other related disorders.
Mandeep Mudhar, NHS Business Director, The Co-operative Pharmacy, said: “Our research has shown that the NHS is getting greater value for money but worryingly prescription items have risen at an alarming rate, up 26 per cent in just four years.
“It is clear more people are seeking medical help to treat depression and anxiety. However, there are many more people who do not share their experiences. If people do feel depressed we urge them to seek medical help.”
The research found that citalopram hydrobromide was the most common anti-depressant medication (12.1million items prescribed in 2010/11) followed by amitriptyline HCl (8.8 million prescription items). 5.2 million items of fluoxetine (known commonly as Prozac) were prescribed in 2010/11.
Diazepam was the most widely prescribed drug for anxiety (1.5 million items prescribed in 2010/11).
Emer O’Neill, Chief Executive of Depression Alliance, said: “For some people depression just happens, but for others it is triggered by stressful events, for example losing a job, property or bereavement. These uncertain economic times are linked to an increase in the number of people with the illness.
“However, this is just the tip of the iceberg, as for every person diagnosed with depression there are many more who suffer in silence. Getting an early diagnosis, finding the right support mechanisms and treatment for each individual is crucial to beating the illness. At this time of year, many individuals can feel lonely or isolated but there are a range of support groups available to help with depression. Talking about your feelings is the first step to getting help whether it’s making them known to a friend or family member. It is also important to speak to a healthcare professional such as your GP or pharmacist who can help you to find the best way forward.”
||2010/11 anti-depressants / anxiety items
||2007/08 anti-depressants / anxiety items
||Items percentage increase / decrease
||2010/11 anti-depressants / anxiety cost
||2007/08 anti-depressants / anxiety cost
||Cost percentage increase /decrease|
|East of England
|South East Coast
|Yorkshire & Humber
*Freedom of Information Act used to obtain number of dispensed items and costs for anxiolytics (anxiety medicines), anti-depressants and drugs for psychoses and related disorders for 2007/8, 2008/9, 2009/10 and 2010/11 from 152 primary care trusts and strategic health authorities. The number of items refers to the number of times a product appears on a prescription form not the quantity prescribed. A small number of products in the data may have been prescribed for another use such as Diazepam which may be used as a muscle relaxant as well as being used to treat anxiety or insomnia.
About The Co-operative Pharmacy
For more information about products and services visit: www.co-operativepharmacy.co.uk
The Co-operative Pharmacy is part of The Co-operative Group, the UK’s largest mutual business, owned not by private shareholders but by over six million consumers. The Co-operative Group is the UK’s fifth biggest food retailer, the leading convenience store operator and a major financial services provider, operating The Co-operative Bank, Britannia and The Co-operative Insurance. Among its other businesses are the number one funeral services provider and Britain’s largest farming operation. As well as having clear financial and operational objectives, the Group has also set out its social and sustainability goals in its groundbreaking Ethical Plan, which specifies almost 50 commitments in these areas.
The Group operates 4,800 retail trading outlets, employs more than 106,000 people and has an annual turnover of more than £13bn. Further information is available at www.co-operative.coop
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