6 Implications for the NHS

6.1 It is likely that this guidance will result in the preferential prescription of hypnotics with lower acquisition costs and possibly lead to a reduction in the prescribing of hypnotics, both overall and more specifically for long-term use. It is therefore expected that there will be some savings in terms of costs directly associated with the prescription of hypnotics. In 2002, a total of 3.9 million prescriptions were written for Z-drugs with a net ingredient cost of £15.9 million. However, the overall effect and the timescale of this effect on NHS resources will depend on any reduction in overall hypnotic prescribing, the proportion of prescriptions relating to the short-term management, the proportion of patients prescribed more expensive hypnotics as a result of adverse effects directly related to the cheaper alternatives and the uptake of any non-pharmacological alternatives.