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UK study flags rise in use and costs of antidepressants during pandemic

It found that the total number of antidepressant prescriptions drugs dispensed during 2020 had increased by four million items since 2019, costing NHS England £139 million more than in the previous year.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: June 5, 2021 7:52:35 am
The paper recommends that further studies are needed to assess the age distribution of antidepressant prescriptions. (Representational Image)

A study by British researchers has highlighted an alarming rise in use and costs of antidepressants. The open-access study, published by the DARU Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, has investigated the trends in prescriptions and costs of various antidepressants in England during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It found that the total number of antidepressant prescriptions drugs dispensed during 2020 had increased by four million items since 2019, costing NHS England £139 million more than in the previous year.

The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Huddersfield. In a statement, the university attributed the rise in use and costs of antidepressants to the active pharmaceutical ingredient shortages witnessed during Covid-19, coupled with a significantly higher cost of generic drugs during the pandemic. One product alone — sertraline, an SSRI antidepressant drug — accounted for a majority of the additional costs.

While an increase in the number of prescriptions had been predicted because of the pandemic, it was the sharp rise in antidepressant prescription costs that the researchers have flagged as a potential cause for concern.

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The study also observes a meta-analysis of 100,000 patients using antidepressants which concluded that the risk of suicide doubled in children and adolescents.

“These findings are particularly important in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. Observational data suggest that young adults, up to 25 years of age, were impacted by the mental health issues during the pandemic, and hence, were more likely to use antidepressants,” the university quoted researcher Dr Hamid Merchant as saying.

The paper recommends that further studies are needed to assess the age distribution of antidepressant prescriptions.

Source: University of Huddersfield

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First published on: 05-06-2021 at 02:15:05 am
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