Prescribing data, metrics or supporting resources

Prescribing data, metrics or supporting resources

The selection of metrics to support key therapeutic topics is overseen by the NHS England Medicines Optimisation Intelligence Group, and work is ongoing in this area. At this point, the following prescribing data, indicators and resources have been identified by this group to support this topic.

The Care Quality Commission controlled drugs annual report for 2017 found that the top 6 controlled drugs prescribed in primary care (number of items) were tramadol, buprenorphine, morphine sulfate, methadone, oxycodone and fentanyl. The report compared 2017 prescribing data with 2016 prescribing data and found there were increases in the volume of items prescribed for: oxycodone (6%), morphine sulfate (3%), and buprenorphine (2%). There was a decrease in volume of items prescribed for tramadol (6%), fentanyl (4%) and methadone (6%).

The total use in primary care in England of gabapentin has increased year on year from 1.5 million prescriptions dispensed in 2007 to 6.5 million in 2016 and 7.1 million in 2017 (10% relative increase from 2016 and 380% increase from 2007). Pregabalin use has increased from 0.7 million prescriptions dispensed in 2007 to 5.5 million in 2016 and 6.3 million in 2017 (15% relative increase from 2016 and 813% increase from 2007; Prescription cost analysis – England 2017).

The NHS Business Services Authority produces 2 sets of reports for controlled drug monitoring:

  • comparator charts available for the last 2 quarters' prescribing data

  • analysis reports that can be accessed through the information services portal.

These reports monitor the prescribing of schedule 2 and 3 controlled drugs to enable controlled drug accountable officers to highlight potential causes for concern within the prescribing of controlled drugs through demonstrating variance in prescribing between organisations, and by identifying prescribers or organisations exhibiting unusual prescribing behaviour (NHS Business Services Authority controlled drug monitoring).

A series of indicators have been developed to inform safer prescribing practice to help pharmacists, clinicians and patients review prescribed medication and prevent harm. These include indicators about pain.