Surging trends in prescriptions and costs of antidepressants in England amid COVID-19

Shahad A. Rabeea, Hamid A. Merchant, Muhammad Umair Khan, Chia Siang Kow, Syed Shahzad Hasan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)


The social restrictions amid coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic have posed a serious threat to mental health and have implications in the use of medications for mental health including antidepressants (ADs). This study investigated the trends in prescriptions and costs of various ADs in England during COVID-19 pandemic. National prescribing rates and net ingredient costs (NIC) of all ADs prescriptions during 2016 to 2020 were analyed. The total number of ADs prescriptions dispensed during COVID-19 pandemic (January to December 2020) were 78 million, 4 million more than in 2019 that costed NHS England £ 139 million more than in 2019. Sertraline, an SSRI antidepressant drug, alone accounted for an extra £113 million during 2020 than in 2019. The peak dispensing for ADs was observed in March 2020 while the total costs for AD drugs peaked in April 2020. The rising prescription costs for ADs during COVID-19 pandemic is a potential cause of concern, in particular the increasing use in adolescents and younger adults needs attention, who are at a higher risk of life-threatening adverse drug reactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-221
Number of pages5
JournalDARU, Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Issue number1
Early online date13 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021


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