The total cost of prescriptions dispensed in the community fell sharply last year, according to new figures.
Practices delivered a cost reduction of more than £300 million to the NHS as spending on prescriptions fell by 3.7% to £8.8 billion.
Prescription costs peaked in 2015 at £9.26 billion and have been falling slightly since – but last year saw a steep decline, the NHS Digital figures showed.
The figures represent falling costs and movement away from expensive drugs as the number of prescriptions increased by 0.3%, reaching 1.1 billion.
The Royal College of GPs responded to concerns about increasing rates of antidepressant prescription. The total costs of these prescriptions has also fallen sharply but the number of prescriptions has increased by 16% since 2015, reaching 70 million.
Chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said: “It’s really important that increasing numbers of antidepressant prescriptions are not automatically seen as a bad thing, as research has shown they can be very effective drugs when used appropriately.
“It can be difficult to determine why prescribing rates fluctuate, these figures could indicate rising awareness of mental health conditions in society, and that more patients are feeling able to seek medical care for them – as well as demonstrating an improvement in the identification and diagnosis of mental health conditions.”