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Volume 410: debated on Friday 19 September 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many antibiotic and antimicrobial drugs were bought by the NHS in each of the last six years; and what the expenditure was on these drugs in each year.[128902]

There is currently no comprehensive national data available on the costs of antibiotic and antimicrobial drugs in the national health service.The number of prescription items and the associated net ingredient cost for anti-bacterial drugs (antibiotics), dispensed in the community in England from 1997 to 2002 is shown in the table.

£ million
Prescription itemsNet ingredient cost


1. The prescription information was obtained from the Prescription Cost Analysis (PCA) system 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. Total prescriptions include not only prescriptions originating from general medical practitioners in England but also from hospital doctors, nurses, and dentists, provided they were dispensed in the community. 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 hospital or private prescriptions.

2. Antibacterial drugs are those defined in the British National Formulary (BNF) section 5.1, "Antibacterial drugs".

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what studies he has assessed of a possible correlation between GP antibiotic prescribing levels and antibiotic resistance.[128924]

Prescribing of antimicrobials by general practitioners in England decreased by 16 per cent. between 1996 and 2002, but there is currently no system in place to link prescribing levels to antibiotic resistance.The Department is currently funding three research projects, which are investigating to link antimicrobial prescribing data to diagnosis and clinical outcome.