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Viagra prescriptions increasing

Published 07/07/2015

The Health and Social Care Information Centre says more than 1.06 billion items were prescribed in England last year
The Health and Social Care Information Centre says more than 1.06 billion items were prescribed in England last year

The number of prescriptions for Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs has gone up by more than a quarter in a year, official figures show.

Statistics released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) show that last year there were 1.7 million prescriptions for sildenafil - commonly sold as Viagra but also available under other trade names - compared with 1.4 million in 2013 and a million in 2004.

Antidepressants, which include drugs for depressive illness, generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder, and panic attacks, also saw a large increase with 57.1 million dispensed last year, up 7.2% from 53.3 million in 2013.

Since 2004 the number has nearly doubled by 97.1% from 29 million.

HSCIC said more than 1.06 billion items were prescribed in England last year, an increase of 3.3% on 2013 and a rise of 55.2% on 2004.

The overall net ingredient cost (NIC) of prescriptions last year stood at £8.85 billion, up 2.6% on 2013 and 9.6% over the last decade.

While the number of prescriptions for erectile dysfunction drugs has gone up, the cost of sildenafil fell by 85.9% as generic alternatives became available in 2013, HSCIC said.

The most money was spent on drugs for diabetes for the eighth year in succession, rising by £55.3 million (7%) in a year to £849.1 million last year.

Atorvastatin, which helps to reduce the likelihood of heart attacks and strokes, had the greatest increase in the number of items dispensed with 4 million more since 2013.

The report shows the average NIC per prescription item dispensed in the community had decreased by 29.4% since 2004.

Of all prescription items dispensed the vast majority - 89.9% (957.1 million) - were free of charge.

Three in five were for patients aged 60 and over, accounting for 51.2% (£4.53 billion) of the total NIC for all prescriptions.

One in 20 was for patients aged under 16 or 16-18 and in full-time education.

The report looks at prescriptions dispensed by community pharmacists, dispensing doctors and in GP practices.

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