The National Health Service in England is now shelling out £780,000 a day on antidepressants which, out of all BNF drug categories, saw the greatest numeric rise in prescriptions in 2015.

According to a report published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), there were 61.0 million antidepressant items prescribed during the year, 31.6 million (107.6 percent) more than in 2005 and 3.9 million (6.8 percent) more than in 2014.

The Net Ingredient Cost (NIC) has also increased in the past year, rising by £19.7 million (7.4 percent) to £284.7 million, although this is £53.8 million (15.9 percent) lower than in 2005.

The report also finds that more than 1.08 billion prescription items were dispensed overall in 2015, marking a 1.8 percent increase on the previous year, and a 50.4 percent increase on the same figure a decade ago.

The NIC for all prescriptions dispensed last year hit £9.27 billion, up 4.7 percent increase on the previous year, and 16.8 percent on a decade ago.

Drugs used to treat diabetes cost the NHS the most money for the ninth consecutive year, rising £87.6 million to £936.7 million, so that, in 2015, more than £2.6 million per day was spent on medicines to treat the condition.

After antidepressants, the therapeutic area with the second greatest jump in the number of items prescribed and dispensed from 2014 to 2015 was antisecretory drugs and mucosal protectants, used to prevent and treat gastrointestinal ulcerations, of which 3.1 million more items were dispensed. Prescription items for this category have also more than doubled in the last decade, from 26.9 million to 60.8 million (a 125.4 per cent increase), the HSCIC noted.

On the flip side, the number of antibacterial drugs dished out dropped a 5.6 percent from 2014 to 39.4 million items, under efforts to reduce unnecessary prescribing in the fight against antimicrobial resistance.

The report also showed that, last year, 89.7 percent of all prescription items were dispensed free of charge, with 60.4 percent going to those aged 60 and over, 4.5 percent to children aged under 16 and those aged 16-18 in full-time education, and 24.8 percent to those falling into other exemption categories, such as medical conditions.