The number of items prescribed in the community has increased by over 50% since 2004, according to figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre.
Over 1.06 billion items were prescribed in 2014 in comparison to 378.5 million items in 2004.
The report, Prescriptions Dispensed in the Community 2004-2014, looks at prescriptions dispensed in England by GP practices, community pharmacists, appliance contractors and dispensing doctors.
Of all the prescriptions items dispensed nearly 90% were dispensed free of charge. Three in five of these were for patients aged 60 and over and one in 20 were for patients aged under 16 or 16–18 and in fulltime education.
Atorvastatin, a medicine 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 items since 2013. There was a rise in the cost of medicines use to prevent blood clots, epilepsy and diabetes. The number if antidepressants dispensed has nearly doubled from 29 million in 2004.
Professor Matt Griffiths, an advanced nurse practitioner and professor of prescribing medicines and management, said: 'The increases in prescriptions are largely down to a change in clinical practice to prevent health problems. The increased use of statins and anticoagulants are partly down to national initiatives to prevent illness. The increased use of antidepressants are again down to increased vigilance and scoring methods by practitioners. It would be interesting to look at access to talking or non pharmacological therapies in this area to see if there are increases in referrals to these areas or whether there is an increased dependence on purely pharmacological solutions.'