OBJECTIVES: The Welsh Assembly Government introduced free prescriptions for all on 1st April 2007. In the other UK countries, prescriptions were around 6 each, although children, elderly and other exemptions applied. This study evaluated whether the Welsh policy change impacted levels of prescribing. METHODS: Total numbers of prescription items were calculated for eight 12-monthperiods between 1st July 2001 and 30th June 2009 from The Health Improvement Network (THIN), which contains anony mised longitudinal UK primary care data. The number of prescriptions was divided by number of actively registered patients for each time period, country and age category (0-21, 22-59 and >60 years old). Percentage changes between periods were calculated and all results described. RESULTS: In Wales there were 19.5 prescriptions/patient in the 2001/2002period, which steadily increased to 26.9 in the 2008/2009 period. In England, prescriptions/patient increased from 15.1 to 21.3, Scotland 15.4 to 20.2, Northern Ireland (NI) 16.7 to 21.9. The percentage change between 2006/2007 and 2007/2008 was 4.2% in Wales, 4.9% England, 3.1% Scotland, 4.3% NI. The change within the 0-21 year olds was 4.0%, 1.7%, 2.6% and 0.8% respectively. For 22-59 year olds it was 6.6%, 3.0%, 2.5% and 3.7% respectively. For >60 year olds it was 2.8%, 5.1%, 2.9% and 4.3% respectively. CONCLUSIONS: The descriptive results suggest that overall the policy change did not seem to impact levels of prescribing in Wales as the percentage change was similar across countries. However, the percentage change for the 0-21 and 22-59 age groups was higher in Wales, whereas the percentage change for the >60 age group, who were already exempt from prescription charges, was lower. This could suggest that prescribing increased for patients who were previously most affected by prescription charges. Future studies could evaluate whether prescribing of certain drug classes, especially those including over-the-counter products, was affected.
Thompson, M., Sedani, T., Blak, B. T., & Hards, M. (2011). PHP9 IMPACT OF FREE PRESCRIPTIONS IN WALES ON PRESCRIBING - A THIN DATABASE STUDY. Value in Health, 14(3), A13. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jval.2011.02.083