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Cardiovascular drugs are most commonly prescribed pills

Four of the five top prescribed drugs are for heart disease

Adrian O'Dowd

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Four out of the five most often prescribed drugs by doctors in England are to treat cardiovascular disease, it has been revealed.

The NHS Information Centre has published a report showing that simvastatin, aspirin, ramipril and bendroflumethiazide accounted for 12.9% (109.3 million prescription items) of all items dispensed in primary care in 2009, but only 1.9% (£160.3 million) of the total net ingredient cost.

The most commonly prescribed drug of the four was simvastatin and in 2009, 37.3 million prescription items of the drug were dispensed at a total net ingredient cost of £66.8 million.

Levothyroxine, third in the top five, is used in the treatment of hypothyroidism.

The leading drugs were detailed in the NHS Information Centre’s report Prescriptions Dispensed in the Community; England, Statistics for 1999 to 2009.

It also showed that in 2009:

  • 886 million prescription items were dispensed, a 5.2% (43.5 million item) increase on the previous year and a 67.2% (356.2 million item) increase on 1999

  • total net ingredient cost of all prescription items dispensed was £8.5 billion, a 2.6% (£213.9 million) increase on the previous year and a 61.4% (£3,248.2 million) increase on 1999

  • average net ingredient cost per prescription item was £9.64, compared to £9.88 in 2008 and £9.99 in 1999

  • on average 17.1 prescription items were dispensed per head of the population, compared to 16.4 in 2008 and 10.8 in 1999.

Centre chief executive Tim Straughan said: “This report offers valuable information in terms of the type of drugs we are prescribed and how much they cost.

“The treatment of cardiovascular disease dominates the top of the table in terms of the most dispensed prescription items within primary care, with four of the five most prescribed drugs used to help treat the disease.

“However it is interesting to note that while these four drugs account for almost 13% of all prescription items dispensed in England, they represent just under 2% of the total net ingredient cost.”

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