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Trends in prescriptions and costs of drugs for mental disorders in England, 1998–2010

  • Stephen Ilyas (a1) and Joanna Moncrieff (a2)

Abstract

Background

Increasing rates of prescriptions for antidepressants, antipsychotics and stimulants have been reported from various countries.

Aims

To examine trends in prescriptions and the costs of all classes of psychiatric medication in England.

Method

Data from the Prescription Cost Analysis 1998–2010 was examined, using linear regression analysis to examine trends.

Results

Prescriptions of drugs used for mental disorders increased by 6.8% (95% CI 6.3–7.4) per year on average, in line with other drugs, but made up an increasing proportion of all prescription drug costs (P = 0.001). There were rising trends in prescriptions of all classes of psychiatric drugs, except anxiolytics and hypnotics (which did not change). Antidepressant prescriptions increased by 10% (95% CI 9.0–11) per year on average, and antipsychotics by 5.1% (95% CI 4.3–5.9). Antipsychotics overtook antidepressants as the most costly class of psychiatric medication, with costs rising 22% (95% CI 17–27) per year.

Conclusions

Rising prescriptions may be partly explained by longer-term treatment and increasing population. Nevertheless, it appears that psychiatric drugs make an increasing contribution to total prescription drug costs, with antipsychotics becoming the most costly. Low-dose prescribing of some antipsychotics is consistent with other evidence that their use may not be restricted to those with severe mental illness.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Joanna Moncrieff, Department of Mental Health Sciences, Charles Bell House, Riding House Street, London W1W 7EJ, UK Email: j.moncrieff@ucl.ac.uk

Footnotes

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Declaration of interest

J.M. is co-chairperson of the Critical Psychiatry Network.

Footnotes

References

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Trends in prescriptions and costs of drugs for mental disorders in England, 1998–2010

  • Stephen Ilyas (a1) and Joanna Moncrieff (a2)

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Trends in prescriptions and costs of drugs for mental disorders in England, 1998–2010

  • Stephen Ilyas (a1) and Joanna Moncrieff (a2)
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