The ingredient cost of NHS drug prescriptions in England in 2008 fell by 0.6% to £8.3 billion in 12 months, partly due to a rise in the number of generics, according to latest figures.
This despite the fact that the average number of items dispensed per head of the population rose to 16.4 from 15.6, which compares with 10.5 items in 1998.
The biggest rise in drug costs was for diabetes, at £593.3 million, to 32.6 million item from 30.4 million, an increase of 7.1%.
Says NHS Information Centre chief executive Tim Straughan: “The reduction in cost may be due in part to the Category M scheme, where the net ingredient cost for some commonly prescribed drugs is controlled, with the aim of reducing costs overall.”
The figures show that the number of allergy, diabetes and obesity prescriptions rose by 5.8% to 842.5 million, up 64.1% on the 513.2 million in 1998.
Antihistamine, hyposensitisation and allergic emergency drugs has increased by 5.1% to 10 million. Obesity drugs were up by 3.7%, from 1.2 million to 1.3 million.
An average of 16.4 prescription items were dispensed per head of the population in England, compared with 15.6 items in 2007 and 10.5 items in 1998.
Copyright Press Association 2009