Dr Margaret McCartney has today published an article in the BMJ entitled ‘Overprescribing antidepressants: where’s the evidence?’ which casts doubt on the validity of figures used by CEP to highlight the growth of prescribing of antidepressants.
“CEP said that antidepressant use had increased by 92% in England since 20035; however, it cited the Health and Social Information Centre, which records prescription items rather than prescription amounts. Over the past decade GPs have been told to prescribe tablets monthly rather than, as previously, an amount that would last 2-3 months. The number of items dispensed is likely to have increased as a result—but it is uncertain, from the data cited by the Council for Evidence Based Psychiatry, whether this means that more people are taking them,” says McCartney.
The full article can be seen at: http://www.bmj.com/content/348/bmj.g4218
However a 2013 OECD survey shows that the HSCIC figures used by CEP are very close to OECD data for the UK, and also to the rate of prescribing growth in 19 other developed nations. Prof. Peter Gøtzsche has written a response to the article which makes this point: “Margaret McCartney questions whether there is overprescribing of antidepressants and doubts that the information provided by the Council for Evidence Based Psychiatry that antidepressant use had increased by 92% in England since 2003 is correct. I can assure McCartney that the use of antidepressants has increased dramatically. An OECD report found an increase in defined daily doses of 88% between 2000 and 2011 in the United Kingdom, similar to the average of 89% in 19 OECD countries.”
The full response can be seen here: http://www.bmj.com/content/348/bmj.g4218/rapid-responses