3 March 2021: OIA response | antidepressant and sedative/hypnotic dispensing rates

3 March 2021 

Dear [name and contact details withheld]

REQUEST FOR INFORMATION

Thank you for your request dated 7 February 2021 under the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA) for information relating to antidepressant and sedative/hypnotic medicines dispensing. You requested:

[The] total antidepressant and total sedative/hypnotic prescribing rates for New Zealanders over 2018-2019, 2019-2020 and 2020-2021. I am also needing this to be broken down into the categories of men/women, and over 18 year olds versus children/youth under 18.

Please find the information requested included in tables below.

Antidepressants

Table 1: total unique people dispensed antidepressants per financial year (FYR)

Note: PHARMAC’s financial year runs from 1 July to 30 June.

FYR

Gender

Under 18

18 and over

2018/19

Female

6,931

333,913

 

Male

4,441

184,265

 

Gender diverse/unknown

17

99

2019/20

Female

7,337

342,386

 

Male

4,497

188,959

 

Gender diverse/unknown

15

137

2020/21

Female

6,339

317,229

 

Male

3,762

168,882

 

Gender diverse/unknown

13

149

Sedatives and hypnotics

Table 2: total unique patients dispensed sedatives/hypnotics per financial year (FYR).

FYR

Gender

Under 18

18 and over

2018/19

Female

3,791

175,876

 

Male

7,047

102,337

 

Gender diverse/unknown

<10

39

2019/20

Female

4,471

169,626

 

Male

8,377

99,089

 

Gender diverse/unknown

<10

40

2020/21

Female

3,903

127,680

 

Male

7,865

71,346

 

Gender diverse/unknown

<10

42

Please note:

  1. PHARMAC does not hold prescribing information; this data is for medicines dispensed, not prescribed.
  2. This data is generated for dispensings from 1 July 2018 to 31 January 2021, therefore, 2020/21 data is not a full financial year.
  3. This data is for medicines dispensed in the community only. People dispensed medicines in hospital have not been counted.
  4. A person dispensed more than one medicine within a sub-therapeutic group (ie antidepressants or sedatives/hypnotics) and within the same financial year will be counted once. People are not aggregated across years to avoid double counting.
  5. A person’s age is calculated as their age at the conclusion of the relevant financial year.

Please note that PHARMAC approaches its assessment of requests for information under the OIA on the basis that, once released, the information becomes publicly available.

Where fewer than 10 people received a dispensed medicine, we have changed the number shown to "<10" as we believe this is necessary to protect the privacy of these people (section 9(2)(a) of the OIA).

As required under the OIA, we also considered whether, in the circumstances, the withholding of this information was outweighed by other considerations which render it desirable, in the public interest, to make this information available.  In this case we did not consider that the public interest outweighed the reasons for withholding the information.

You have the right, by way of complaint under section 28(3) of the OIA to an Ombudsman, to seek an investigation and review of our decision.

We trust that this information answers your queries. We are making our information more freely available, so we will now publish selected OIA responses (excluding personal details) on our website. Please get in touch with us if you have any questions about this.

Yours sincerely

Rachel Read
Manager, Policy and Government Services