Slight rise in alcohol dependence prescriptions in 2020-21

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Slight rise in alcohol dependence prescriptions in 2020-21

The number of drugs dispensed to treat alcohol dependence rose by one per cent in England last year, new NHS statistics reveal.

NHS Digital’s report on alcohol use in 2020-21 found that 166,590 prescription items were dispensed, up from 164,242 in the previous year.

However, this was significantly lower than in 2014-15, when 195,733 items were dispensed.

As in previous years, acamprosate was by far the most commonly prescribed alcohol dependence medicine, at 137,391 dispensed items.

By comparison, 28,150 disulfiram items and 1,049 nalfamene items were dispensed. Both of these drugs have become much less widely prescribed over the past seven years.

The vast majority (98 per cent) of alcohol dependence prescriptions were dispensed in primary care.

The average net ingredient cost per item was £28, the same as in 2019-20 but £10 more expensive than in 2014-15.

This could explain why the total NIC (£4.6m) was significantly higher than in 2014-15 (£3.4m), when more items were dispensed.

There were an estimated 280,000 hospital admissions mainly attributable to alcohol in 2020-21, two per cent higher than in 2018-19 and eight per cent higher than 2016-17. Around 65 per cent of patients were male.

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