Rx-info secondary care medicines data now informing CQC and NICE
Posted in News
Secondary care medicines data supplied to the NHS by Rx-info has been used by both the CQC and NICE for the first time.
A full national picture on the quantities and costs of controlled drugs prescribed in secondary care in England has been published by the Care Quality Commission using Rx-info data.
Previously the CQC relied on data relating only to the number of prescriptions issued which was obtained via FP10 NHS prescription forms, rather than the amount and cost of the drugs prescribed.
Now it can use the Secondary Care Medicines Data which Rx-info supplies to the NHS in England through the NHS Business Services Authority.
In its annual update on the safer management of controlled drugs, the CQC says: “The data we present relates to the aggregated costs and actual quantities of controlled drugs held across secondary care settings, as opposed to individual numbers of prescription items.
“This also includes controlled drugs held before they are supplied to other organisations, such as a prison or a private provider through a service level agreement. In this report, we refer to this as ‘stockholding’. Although this means the data is not directly comparable with primary care, it does help to provide a more rounded view of the use of controlled drugs across health and care settings.
“Recent trends in the data must be viewed in the context of Covid-19, and the different needs of patients who were treated. This included a reduction in the number of routine operations and procedures, but also a large increase in number of patients who needed intensive care, sometimes for long periods.”
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has used the same Secondary Care Medicines Data to improve its “Innovation Scorecard” of Technology Appraisals in the NHS in England.
The scorecard reports on the use of medicines and medical technologies in the NHS in England which have been positively appraised by NICE.
The latest report says: “This publication introduces the use of the Secondary Care Medicines Data that is supplied by Rx-info and now published by the NHS BSA through their open data portal to provide a richer source of data down to hospital Trust level.”
Rx-info Director Jonathan Kerr said: “Rx-info has been helping secondary care trusts across the country understand more about their own medicines usage, track budgets, and flag any unexpected trends for many years, with a range of software packages including Define, Refine, and ADIoS.
“We are very pleased that the nationwide data we are able to supply to the NHS BSA has helped the CQC in its work ensuring a safe environment for the management and use of controlled drugs in England.
“NICE has also recognised that the data supplied by Rx-info has helped give it a clearer picture of how medicines are being used across a range of settings.”
Having analysed Rx-info’s prescribing data for the years 2017-2020, the CQC noted:
In 2020, the cost of controlled drugs in hospitals in England was £72,609,854, an increase of 6% compared with 2019. During the three-year period 2017 to 2020, the cost of all controlled drugs reduced by 3%.
The cost increase for schedule 5 controlled drugs is substantial. Cannabidiol accounted for 49% of the costs of Schedule 5 controlled drugs in 2020 with costs of £4,494,317 compared with £3,109 in 2019.
In 2020, there was a reduction in stockholding for a significant number of controlled drugs, compared with 2019:
- Gabapentin (Schedule 3) – down by 26%
- Lisdexamfetamine (Schedule 2) – down by 26%
- Pregabalin (Schedule 3) – down by 25%
- Tramadol (Schedule 3) – down by 23%
- Temazepam (Schedule 3) – down by 22%
- Codeine (Schedule 5) – down by 21%
At the same time, there was an increase in stockholding for:
- Cannabidiol (Schedule 5) – up by 8,430%
- Alfentanil (Schedule 2) – up by 51%
- Midazolam (Schedule 3) – up by 28%.
Mr Kerr said: “Recently the status of some of these controlled drugs has changed, meaning alternatives may have been used in their place – it’s interesting to see the effects of those changes in the type of drugs prescribed in secondary care.
“Cannabidiol has not been licenced for very long so it is no surprise to see such an apparently huge percentage increase.”