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£40M Spent On Antidepressants In Scotland

Thursday, May 14th, 2009 £40M Spent On Antidepressants In Scotland

A very worrying report in the Times by Mark Macaskill (10 05 09) highlighting the biggest increase in prescriptions in the Western Isles. It has been claimed that the use of antidepressants in Scotland has soared to record levels even though the government had pledged to wean patients from drugs such as Prozac.

Despite the commitment from the SNP to cut the use of such drugs, figures reveal that 3.9m prescriptions were issued last year and that the total cost exceeded more than £40m. In addition, it is understood that since 1993 the numbers taking prescriptive drugs have more than trebled. More specifically, between 2007-8 it rose by 4%.

Essentially it also needs to be stated that the increase does happy to the whole of the UK generally speaking. Indeed there figures indicate that prescriptions rose from 995,638 to almost 1.1m in Greater Glasgow and Clyde. Nevertheless the largest increase was in the Western Isles, whereby the prescriptions rose by a total of 7.7%.

The new statistics have emerged post revelation that Glasgow’s Milton is the most depressed area in Scotland with almost one in five on some form of mood enhancing drug. Additionally, the new figures, published in a parliamentary written answer, have been seized upon by opposition politicians who claim they make a mockery of the government’s pledge to cut the number of prescriptions by 10% by 2009.

They have also called for greater funding for alternative treatments such as counselling, and urgent action to tackle the unemployment and deprivation that is blamed for high rates of depression.

“The health secretary has 12 months to reverse this trend or add mental health to the SNP’s broken promises,” said Ross Finnie, health spokesman for the Scottish Liberal Democrats. In her written response, Shona Robison, the public health minister, said: “We have a published target to reduce the levels of antidepressant prescribing in Scotland and action continues to expand accessible alternatives where appropriate.”

A Scottish government spokeswoman said that the “prime concern” was that patients received the appropriate treatment.

“As a first step we have set a target to reduce the growth in prescribing of antidepressants to zero by 2010. Latest figures show an 11% increase in the numbers of mental health staff in the past year, which will result in improved access to talking therapies in NHS Scotland. At the same time, it is important to remember that many of these medications have enabled patients to return to normal and high-quality life in the community.”

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