Drugs: Rehabilitation

Health written question – answered on 20th May 2008.

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Photo of Norman Lamb Norman Lamb Shadow Secretary of State for Health, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Health)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many prescriptions were dispensed for (a) subutex, (b) methadone and (c) other opiate replacements in each strategic health authority in each of the last five years.

Photo of Dawn Primarolo Dawn Primarolo Minister of State (Department of Health) (Public Health)

The information requested is set out in the following tables.

The Government have made a substantial investment in drug treatment with £604 million being spent in 2007-08 compared to £287 million in 2001-02. The increased dispensing is largely a reflection of the significant increase in the numbers of patients in drug treatment over the past 10 years, increases in dosages and people staying in treatment longer (a measure of effectiveness) thereby receiving more prescriptions.

Prescription items for subutex( 1 ) dispensed in the community in England
Thousand
Strategic health authority (SHA) February to December 2003( 2) 2004 2005 2006 2007
East of England 22.4 38.8 45.1 51.9 53.3
London 21.1 34.9 49.6 68.4 71.4
North East 17.0 29.8 35.0 39.5 42.0
North West 41.2 63.0 71.4 85.9 87.3
South Central 26.6 41.7 47.2 51.1 49.6
South East Coast 17.1 30.8 32.2 33.3 32.4
South West 29.2 40.6 45.9 53.3 59.4
West Midlands 48.2 66.8 69.3 72.4 71.8
Yorkshire and the Humber 48.8 82.4 92.9 104.8 103.3
Total 292.0 462.8 532.7 610.8 621.0
Source: Prescription Cost Analysis (PCA).
Prescription items for methadone( 3) (all formulations) dispensed in the community in England
Thousand
SHA February to December 2003( 2) 2004 2005 2006 2007
East of England 104.8 125.7 137.4 151.4 167.3
London 219.7 253.5 264.6 278.4 299.0
North East 95.6 141.5 167.2 183.2 193.6
North West 404.8 455.9 473.3 492.9 514.5
South Central 70.8 76.6 91.3 102.3 117.8
South East Coast 68.8 75.1 78.7 89.4 108.0
South West 125.8 150.8 169.7 182.5 204.7
West Midlands 141.6 188.1 226.6 265.8 291.8
Yorkshire and the Humber 176.4 232.5 293.9 355.9 394.2
Total 1,486.7 1,810.0 2,044.0 2,277.1 2,491.9
Source: PCA.
Prescription items for suboxone( 4) dispensed in the community in England
Thousand
SHA 2006 2007
East of England 0 0.9
London 0 0.2
North East 0 0.3
North West 0 2.9
South Central 0 3.3
South East Coast 0 0.6
South West 0 2.9
West Midlands <0.1 1.0
Yorkshire and the Humber 0 6.3
Total <0.1 19.3
(1) Subutex is a brand name for buprenorphine and is a substitution treatment for opioid drug dependence. (2) The prescription pricing division of the NHS business services authority keeps data for only 60 months. The figures provided cover the period from February 2003 up to the end of 2007. The SHA is the one in which the prescription was dispensed. (3 )Methadone is prescribed for use in the treatment of opioid drug addiction, however it is also used in the treatment of cough in terminal disease and analgesia. The figures reflect prescriptions dispensed for all indications and formulations. (4) The only other substantive treatment for opioid drug dependence is suboxone, a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. This was not dispensed earlier than 1 December 2006. Source: PCA.

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