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Friday, July 29, 2011

Prescription medication usage rises 70% in a decade

The advance of 'lifestyle' health problems like heart disease and diabetes has fuelled a dramatic rise in prescriptions, new figures indicate.

The number of prescriptions made outside hospitals in England has risen almost 70 per cent in a decade, according to the NHS Information Centre.

While in 2000 there were 552 million items prescribed, that rose to 927 million in 2010.

Drugs to counter cardiovascular disease, such as statins which lower cholesterol and ACE inhibitors which lower blood pressure, are now the most frequently prescribed.

Meanwhile, the drugs bill to tackle diabetes has risen rapidly. Experts say this is due both to a rise in the numbers of people with the disease - curreently estimated at about 2.5 million - and the fact a number of expensive new treatments have come on to the market.

Overall, the prescription drugs bill has risen 58 per cent between 2000 and 2010, from £5.59 billion to £8.83 billion - close to 10 per cent of the entire NHS budget. (more)