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Methadone: Hertfordshire

Volume 482: debated on Wednesday 5 November 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people were prescribed methadone in (a) Hemel Hempstead, (b) West Hertfordshire Hospital Trust and (c) Hertfordshire in each of the last 10 years; and what percentage was aged (i) under 18, (ii) between 18 and 25, (iii) between 26 and 40 and (iv) over 40 years at the date of the first prescription. (231098)

The Department does not hold information on the number or age of patients treated with a particular drug. However we are able to provide two related sources of data covering the Hertfordshire area. These are the number of methadone prescriptions and the number of people receiving specialist prescribing treatment for drug misuse.

The number of items prescribed and dispensed for methadone is in the following table. We are unable to supply information for the areas requested as they are not health regions. We have supplied information for the health areas that most closely fit those requested (West Hertfordshire Primary Care Trust (PCT) to represent Hemel Hempstead and West Hertfordshire and East and North Hertfordshire PCTs combined to represent Hertfordshire). Furthermore, some of these health areas have changed under the reconfiguration of PCTs in 2006, details of which are given as follows. Information is only held for the last 60 months.

Methadone can be used to treat more than one condition - it is licensed for use in opioid dependence, as an analgesic and as a cough suppressant.

Number of prescription items (not individuals receiving prescriptions) of methadone, as whole numbers

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

Hertfordshire1

7,140

5,404

5,442

6,937

West Hertfordshire2

4,413

3,350

3,741

5,128

1 Due to changes in PCT configuration Hertfordshire comprises of the following PCTs:

Post 2006 PCT changes

East and North Hertfordshire PCT; and

West Hertfordshire PCT.

Pre 2006 changes

Dacorum PCT;

Hertsmere PCT;

North Herts and Stevenage PCT;

Royston, Buntingford and Bishops Stortford PCT;

South East Hertfordshire PCT;

St Albans and Harpenden PCT;

Watford and Three Rivers PCT; and

Welwyn Hatfield PCT.

2 Due to changes in PCT configuration West Hertfordshire comprised of the following PCTs, pre 2006 changes:

Dacorum PCT;

Hertsmere PCT;

St. Albans and Harpenden PCT; and

Watford and Three Rivers PCT.

Due to these changes it is not possible to compare the numbers of items prescribed in one year to the number in the next.

The National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse's (NTA) National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS) collects data on people in drug treatment in England.

NDTMS only records numbers of people receiving specialist prescribing for drug treatment rather than the type of drug which is prescribed. Most of those in treatment receive oral methadone but buprenorphine or other substitute opioids may also be prescribed.

The NDTMS only records data for the county of Hertfordshire, and only since 2004-05.

The number of people who received prescribing treatment for drug misuse for each of the years since 2004-05 is in the following table.

Number

2004-05

831

2005-06

970

2006-07

1,081

2007-08

1,310

The percentages of people receiving prescribing treatment, for the age brackets as requested are as follows.

Percentage

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

under 18

1

1

0

0

18 to 25

28

24

22

21

26 to 40

59

62

64

62

41+

12

13

13

17

Notes:

Percentages may not always total 100 per cent. owing to rounding.