• GPs in England wrote 22,900,000 prescriptions for paracetamol last year
  • Average prescription cost 20 times price of 25p box from supermarket
  • Price per prescription of £3.83 cost tax payers a staggering £87,600,000
  • Prescription figures dropped but costs jumped by nearly three per cent

Daily Mail Reporter

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The NHS spent over £87million handing out paracetamol last year – with the average prescription costing 20 times the price of a packet in the supermarket.

GPs in England wrote a staggering 22,900,000 prescriptions for paracetamol, costing tax payers a whopping £87,600,000.

It represents a price per prescription of £3.83 – compared to just 25p a box from the supermarket.

GPs in England wrote a staggering 22,900,000 prescriptions for paracetamol, costing tax payers a whopping £87,600,000

The number of prescriptions written out actually dropped by nearly 1.5 per cent on 2014 – but the costs jumped by nearly three per cent on the previous year.

But the latest figures reveal that the cost of the mild painkiller to the NHS has increased by more than 200 per cent in a decade.

The data does not reveal how many tablets were issued with each prescription, but on the high street 16 tablets can cost as little as 19p from Asda.

At this figure, the NHS could buy a staggering 461 million packs for the amount they currently pay for prescriptions – eight packs of paracetamol for every person in England.

Analysis of Government figures show a similar situation for the prescription of ibuprofen in England.

In 2015, some 7,300,000 prescriptions were written for ibuprofen, racking up a bill for £27,000,000 – a cost of £3.74 per lot compared to 25p a box from the high street.

The number of prescriptions written out actually dropped by nearly 1.5 per cent on 2014 – but the costs jumped by nearly three per cent on the previous year (file photo)

In total, prescribing four common painkillers – including paracetamol, ibuprofen, aspirin and codeine phosphate – cost the NHS £161,500,000 in 2015.

This is the equivalent of up to 19,000 heart bypass operations, or 30,000 mastectomy ops – and is an 80 per cent increase in a decade.

There are now moves in some areas of the country to cut the painkiller bill.

In North Norfolk, GPS have been told not to prescribe painkillers for short-term illnesses like colds and flu.

The East Riding of Yorkshire has followed suit with a ‘buy your own’ policy for painkillers after a survey showed patient support for cost-cutting.

It says that paracetamol can be bought over the counter for as little as 1p per tablet but costs the health service three times that amount.

The latest figures reveal that the cost of the mild painkiller to the NHS has increased by more than 200 per cent in a decade

Harry Davis, Campaign Manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance: ‘Barely a day goes by without the NHS asking for more money, yet we continue to see areas where savings can and should be made.

‘When budgets are tight there can be no justification for paying out on items priced at over twenty times the supermarket value.

‘Of course some cases will be warranted but health bosses need to make sure that no one is gaming the system and ensure that every penny of taxpayers’ money spent is justified.’ 

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