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At the heart of general practice since 1960

NHS drugs bill climbs 11 per cent

The NHS bill for GP prescribing in England has soared 11.1 per cent in a year, chief executive Nigel Crisp said last week.

His six-monthly report on NHS progress said 632 million prescription items were dispensed in the community in 2002/3 at a cost of £7.2 billion.

There was a 30 per cent rise in the number of prescriptions for lipid-regulating drugs in the year to June 2003.

Other fast-growing areas for GP prescribing were antihypertensive drugs (a 17 per cent

annual increase) and diabetes therapies (an 11 per cent rise).

Large rises were seen in prescriptions for antiplatelet drugs (14 per cent), ulcer healing drugs (9 per cent), antidepressants (7 per cent) and antipsychotics (7 per cent).

In cost terms, however, antiplatelets accounted for the largest rise at 45 per cent.

The Department of Health has made clear it has no plans to allocate any new cash to fund the rise in GP drug bills expected as a result of the quality and outcomes framework.

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