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New report reveals regional differences in prescription spending

New report reveals regional differences in prescription spending

There are large regional variations in the cost of prescription per registered patient, a new report from Cogora shows
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There are large regional variations in the cost of prescription per registered patient, a new report from Cogora on prescribing activity in all general practices in England and Wales shows.

The highest cost per registered patient in 2014 was in Wales (£183.24 per registered patient) while the lowest cost per registered patient was in London (£111.19 per registered patient).

Regional differences in the basic price of a drug, excluding discounts, dispensing costs or fees (the net integrated cost (NIC)) per registered patient may be attributed, in part, to different levels of generic prescribing. However, the small difference in the percentage of general practice prescriptions written for an active ingredient rather than a branded product in 2014 (80% in Wales versus 83% in London) suggests that other factors also contributed.

These may include socio-economic differences between regions, with 2012 data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) indicating that London residents have both a lower median age (34.0 years in London versus 39.7 in UK6) and a higher gross disposable household income (£21,446 gross disposable household income per person in London versus £16,791 in the UK in 2012) compared to the rest of the UK.

The total cost of prescriptions issued by general practices in England and Wales rose from £8.91 billion in 2013 to £9.16 billion in 2014. This increase (2.9%) far exceeded the 2014 inflation (0.5%) indicating a real increase in cost to the NHS.

In terms of drug categories, the highest total cost associated with general practice prescriptions was for diabetes drugs, respiratory corticosteroids, analgesics, antiepileptics and oral nutrition products, in descending order.

The branded pharmaceuticals with the highest total cost associated with their prescriptions in 2014 were Seretide, Symbicort and NovoRapid, in descending order. Conversely, the greatest number of prescriptions was issued for Ventolin, Adcal D3 and Clenil Modulite.

Cogora analysed data on prescribing activity from The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) and NHS Wales, as well as the total net ingredient cost (NIC) of general practice prescriptions, written between 1 January 2013 and 31 December 2014.

Regional breakdown
Share of total cost of prescriptions (NIC)
North of England 30%
Midlands and east of England 29%
South of England 24%
London 11%
Wales 6%

Share of total number of registered patients
Midlands and east of England 29%
North of England 27%
South of England 24%
London 11% 
Wales 5%

 

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