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Volume 13: debated on Monday 16 November 1981

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services why, when the total number of National Health Service prescriptions has gone down by 3,358,222, the cost to the taxpayer has risen by £78 million.

I cannot comment on the precise figures, as it is not clear what period they cover. It is true that the average cost of an NHS prescription has increased by more than the general rate of inflation, due to a number of factors. The most important of these are the introduction of new and effective drugs which are more expensive than existing products and an increase in the proportion of elderly people who typically require more expensive drug treatment than average.