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GP prescribing costs doubled in 10 years

GP prescribing costs have more than doubled in England over the last 10 years, latest Government figures show.

National service frameworks accounted for much of the recent spending rise. Last year alone saw an 11.9 per cent rise in total net prescription cost to the NHS (8.5 per cent in real terms).

Total prescription spending before discounts, fees and

other adjustments rose 240 per cent from £2.9 billion in 1992 to £6.8 billion in 2002.

But the number of prescriptions increased just 45 per cent from 425 million to 617 million over the same period.

The average prescription item last year cost the NHS £11.10, 65 per cent higher than in 1992. The number of items dispensed per head of population rose 40 per cent from 8.9 in 1992 to 12.5 in 2002.

The Department of Health said NSFs had triggered hikes in GP prescribing of statins and antihypertensives in coronary heart disease, antidepressants and atypical antipsychotics in mental health and glitazones in diabetes.

GPC prescribing sub-committee member Dr Chaand Nagpaul warned growing demands on the health service could increase the annual rise in prescribing costs still further.

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