Number of people by age band dispensed antidepressants from 2016 to 2020

OIA response

Thank you for your request dated 19 January 2022 under the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA) for information relating to funded antidepressants. You wrote:

Minister Little has released (in a WPQ) figures concerning the number of publicly funded dispensions of antidepressants in recent years. link)

He's noted that the 2020 uptick may be partially explained by the change of prescription timing - the 3 month to 1 month shift. 

I'm keen to find out if Pharmac hold data on the number of individuals who are prescribed antidepressants, and if so to get that data broken down by year and life stage. 

Please see the table below for a count of people receiving publicly funded dispensings of antidepressants, by year and age band for 2016-2020, as extracted on 26 January 2022. This data has been extracted and provided by the Ministry of Health. 

Year 0-4 5-14 15-24 25-44 45-64 65-74 75+ Total
2016 25 3,633 47,635 139,775 183,144 69,276 62,997 490,760
2017 32 3,967 51,113 145,714 189,812 72,313 65,349 512,127
2018 28 4,302 54,018 148,252 191,772 74,395 66,047 522,721
2019 25 4,617 57,420 154,413 194,146 76,300 67,386 537,488
2020 21 5,147 61,070 163,102 199,593 79,289 69,423 559,255

Source: Ministry of Health, Pharmaceutical Collection 

Please note:

  • Patient data should not be summed, as they will be counted in each row and column they appear; this may result in double-counting.
  • The totals presented here (ie., the bolded figures) are calculated without double-counting. They may not be equal to the total of the row, column or table.
  • Administrative and bulk dispensing data has been excluded.
  • Although we've reviewed the provisional data presented here, this data could have unexpected errors that may be picked up through the rigorous data quality checks publication datasets undergo. As a result, published data may differ from the provisional data presented here. Published data should be considered the most accurate source and used where possible.
  • The Pharmaceutical Collection only counts publicly funded, community dispensed pharmaceuticals. It does not count hospital dispensings, drugs not funded by Pharmac, or prescriptions that were never dispensed.
  • Some medications can be dispensed via practitioner supply order; for example, a family planning clinic may be dispensed a large volume of contraceptives which they then dispense to clients. Dispensings of this type have very poor patient reporting and it is often not possible to tell who is ultimately receiving the medication. These are excluded from the following data.
  • Before the new Community Pharmacy Services Agreement in July 2012, it was not mandatory for pharmacies to submit a claim for items where the healthcare user’s copayment covered the entire cost of dispensing the pharmaceutical (eg. there was nothing to claim for). This can create an artificial trend for increases in lower cost medicines over this time.
  • The Pharmaceutical Collection is a live dataset, whilst the Pharmaceutical Data Web Tool is a static extract. Comparing the two extracts may result in different figures.
  • Two people of unknown age have been excluded.

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