GPs in Wales issued prescriptions for 80,028,057 items in 2016,17, a 1.08 per cent increase on the previous year. This is a 35% increase over the past decade, from a level of 59.1 million items in 2006-07. Generic prescribing has plateaued at around 80 per cent over the past decade.
In addition, the net ingredient cost of items prescribed by GPs in Wales in 2016-17 was £577 million, up from £411 million in 2000-01 but down from £579 million in 2006-07 (a 0.4 per cent fall). The NIC per head of population registered with a GP increased from £136.51 in 2000-01 to £189.73 (the highest) in 2004-05, but fell to £180.34 in 2016-17.
The data comes from the Welsh Government’s Statistical First Release, ‘Prescriptions by GPs in Wales, 2016-17. It covers “prescription items prescribed (and dispensed) or dispensed by GPs in Wales. Excluded from this release are prescriptions which were prescribed but, for a variety of reasons, have not been dispensed. It also covers prescriptions submitted by prescribing doctors for items personally administered.”
Prescribing by class indicates that cardiovascular conditions account for 29% of prescribing numbers or 23.6 million items, followed by central nervous system products (20% or 16.1 million items), endocrine (10 per cent), gastrointestinal (9 per cent) and respiratory (7 per cent) products.
NIC by therapeutic class indicates that CNS prescribing accounts for 20% of NIC, the endocrine system for 15 per cent, the respiratory system for 15 per cent, and the cardio-vascular system for 11 per cent.
Overall NIC was £7.21 per item in 2016-17, which was 29p lower than the previous year. Over the past decade, “apart from 2012-13 when the net ingredient cost fell by 5.1 per cent, the annual percentage change has fluctuated around zero, but it fell again in 2016-17 – by 2.8 per cent.”
NIC per item was highest for stoma appliances at £67.03 per item, compared to £2.68 per item for cardiovascular drugs.
The report also includes some analysis across local health boards. “The number of items prescribed per prescribing unit in 2016-17 was 17.9 for Wales, and varied across the LHBs from 15.2 in Cardiff & Vale to 20.5 in Cwm Taf,” it says. “The net ingredient cost per prescribing unit in 2016-17 was £128.92 in Wales, and ranged from £122.07 in Cardiff & Vale to £143.51 in Cwm Taf.
“GPs in Cardiff & Vale prescribed fewer items per prescribing unit than in other Health Boards but at a higher cost per item: £8.27 per item as compared to Cwm Taf, for example, which had the highest rates per prescribing unit for both items and cost but a lower cost per item (£7.01)”
StatsWales has a further breakdown of figures as follows:
- Prescriptions summary data by year
- Prescription items and cost by area and BNF chapter – latest year
- Prescription items and cost by area and BNF chapter – time series
- Prescription items and cost by area, GP cluster, BNF chapter and year.