Prescriptions issued in Wales up by one million in 2015

Prescription drugs

The number of prescription drugs dispensed in Wales increased by one million last year.

A report published by the Welsh Government showed 79.5 million prescriptions were issued in 2015, compared to 78.5 million the previous year.

The overall cost of Wales' prescription policy - which became free in 2007 - was £593.7m, up 3.5% on 2014.

The number of prescriptions handed out has risen by 40% over the last decade.

A Welsh Government spokesman said prescribing decisions were "a matter for GPs and other prescribers based on their professional judgement and the person's clinical needs".

"This has not altered with the introduction of free prescriptions."

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The report showed Wales also remained the UK nation that dispenses more prescriptions per person - 25.7 compared to 21.6 in Northern Ireland, 20 in England and 19 in Scotland.

The Welsh Government spokesman added: "The number of prescription items dispensed in England increased by 36% between 2007 and 2015.

"In Wales, the number of prescription items dispensed increased by 28% over the same period."

Mair Davies, Royal Pharmaceutical Society director for Wales, said: "Prescribers in Wales issue the greatest number of prescriptions per head in the four home countries due to a number of reasons.

"Demographic change, the associated prevalence of chronic conditions in older people, the legacy of heavy industry all contribute to the greater number of prescriptions issued in our country.

"These statistics demonstrate that pharmacists in Wales continue to work exceptionally hard to provide patients with the service they need."

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