Nearly half of people in the UK take prescription drugs, figures released by the HSCIC in the Health Survey of 2013 have revealed.
Of the respondents to the survey, 43 per cent of men and 50 per cent of women reported that they had taken at least one prescribed medicine in the previous week. A quarter of participants reported that they had taken at least three prescribed medicines, with this proportion increasing with age. More than half of participants aged between 65 and 74 reported taking at least three prescribed medicines, while more than 70 per cent of those aged over 75 did. These figures exclude contraceptives and smoking cessation aids.
The survey showed that, in 2013, over a billion prescriptions were given in in England, an average of 2.7 million items every day. The figures also showed that, on average, 18.7 prescription items were dispensed per person in England. The cost of prescribing in 2013 was approximately £15 billion, including costs in hospitals.
The report also highlights the impact of long-term conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Over 307 million prescriptions, approximately 30 per cent of the total were for cardiovascular disease in 2013. The most commonly prescribed single medicine in England in primary care during 2013 was simvastatin, which accounted for 40 million prescriptions.
Prescriptions to treat diabetes were the most expensive for primary care, with a cost of £794 million. Prescribing for diabetes accounted for 4.4 per cent of total items and 9.5 per cent of the total cost of prescribing in 2013/14.