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Cost of alcohol dependency drugs rockets

The cost of prescription drugs designed to treat alcohol addiction has almost doubled in less than a decade, official figures show.

According to the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), the number of drugs prescribed to treat alcohol dependency has risen by more than 60% in eight years.

Nearly 167,800 items were dispensed in 2011 - up 5% from the previous year and up 63% on 2003.

On average 302 prescription items per 100,000 of the population in England were dispensed to treat alcohol dependency.

The North West of England reported the highest number of prescription drugs for alcohol addiction dispensed - 517 per 100,000; while London has the lowest at 138 per 100,000.

Unsurprisingly, costs have also rocketed. The figure currently stands at £2.49m - up 45% on 2003.

The data also shows an estimated 1,168,300 alcohol-related hospital admissions were reported in 2010-11 - up 11% from last year and a whopping130% from 2002-2003.

Again, the North East reported the highest number of alcohol-related hospital admissions at 2,597 per 100,000 of the population and South Central recorded the lowest number at 1,335 per 100,000.

“The figures show how drinking in England has impacted upon admissions to our hospitals and on prescriptions dispensed in our communities,” said Tim Straughan, Chief Executive of HSCIC.

“There are thousands more cases of both hospitalisation and of prescribed drugs being dispensed to tackle the effects of alcohol compared to eight years ago.

“The report also shows the scale of admissions due to drinking alcohol, which is a very complex area, can be most accurately viewed.”

The North West Public Health Observatory, along with the HSCIC and the DH, has launched a public consultation to find the best method for calculating alcohol related admissions to hospital.