A drug used to treat depression and anxiety has climbed the list, while two antibiotics have dipped, in the top 10 prescribed medicines list of 2020-21.
The top 10 list was revealed in the December edition of Australian Prescriber, an independent peer-reviewed journal providing critical commentary on drugs and therapeutics for health professionals.
In the top 10 list of government-subsidised medicines from July 2020 to June 2021, eight of the most used medicines were for cholesterol lowering and blood pressure lowering. The other two medicines were sertraline, which is used to treat depression and anxiety, and metformin for diabetes.
“It is not surprising that the most pills dispensed were to prevent and treat heart disease and stroke. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Australia,” says Dr Kate Annear, Medical Advisor at NPS MedicineWise and GP.
“Sertraline was new to the top 10 list last year and has moved up to number eight this year. This is a reflection of the increasingly high volume of antidepressants being prescribed in Australia.
“We are seeing more people experiencing depression and anxiety disorders, many of these for the first time. The COVID pandemic has likely had an impact on this.”
The data also presents the top 10 list of medicines through the number of prescriptions written.
In this list, the top two medicines are cholesterol-lowering statin medicines, followed by medicines for acid reflux and two medicines to treat depression and anxiety. The antibiotic cephalexin dropped from sixth to ninth, while the antibiotic amoxicillin dropped off the top 10 altogether.
“This is good news as prescribing antibiotics when they are not needed is driving antibiotic resistance,” Dr Annear says.
“This continues a downward trend in antibiotic use over the last years, but Australia still has high use – more than double that of some European countries.”
Read the full list of top 10 medicines in Australian Prescriber here