Dietary Supplements: Expenditure

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 7th October 2019.

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Photo of Julie Elliott Julie Elliott Labour, Sunderland Central

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how much money the NHS spent on (a) probiotics and (b) prebiotics in the last (a) 12 months and (b) five years.

Photo of Jo Churchill Jo Churchill The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

NHS Digital is unable to determine which drugs are purely probiotic or prebiotic supplements, but has agreed with the Department to provide primary care data from the Prescription Cost Analysis (PCA) on the net ingredient cost (NIC) for:

VSL#3 (BNF code 091104000BBNMA0)

Vivomixx (BNF code 091104000BBNUA0)

Symprove (BNF code 090900000BBKTA0)

These products have all been identified as probiotics by manufacturers upon application to the Advisory Committee on Borderline Substances.

PCA data is based on a full analysis of all prescriptions prescribed in the United Kingdom and dispensed in the community in England. A time series for the years 2014 to 2018 is provided in the following table.

NIC of prescription items dispensed in the community in England for the three specified probiotic and prebiotics

British National Formulary Code and Drug Name

NIC (£)

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

091104000BBNMA0 VSL#3_Probiotic Food Supp Pdr Sach 4.4g

990,818

1,149,666

1,037,511

1,067,742

993,369

091104000BBNUA0 Vivomixx_Pdr Sach 4.4g

0

0

1,763

15,124

26,000

090900000BBKTA0 Symprove_Drink (2 Flav)

20

2,877

7,315

4,628

8,076

Total

990,838

1,152,543

1,046,589

1,087,494

1,027,445

Source: Prescription Cost Analysis

Notes:

Prescription information is taken from the PCA system, supplied by NHS Prescription Services, a division of NHS Business Services Authority, and is based on a full analysis of all prescriptions dispensed in the community i.e. by community pharmacists and appliance contractors, dispensing doctors, and prescriptions submitted by prescribing doctors for items personally administered in England. Also included are prescriptions written in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man but dispensed in England. The data do not cover drugs dispensed in hospitals, including mental health trusts, or private prescriptions.

Prescribers are general practitioners, hospital doctors, dentists and non medical prescribers such as nurses and pharmacists.

NIC is the basic cost of a drug as used in primary care. This is the cost at list price excluding VAT, i.e. the price listed in the national Drug Tariff or in standard price lists and is not necessarily the price the National Health Service paid. It does not take into account any contract prices or discounts, dispensing costs, fees or prescription charge income, so the amount the NHS paid will be different.

Prescriptions are prescribed either by a paper prescription form or via an Electronic Prescription Service message. Each single item prescribed is counted as a prescription item.

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