We’re a nation of pill-poppers: Prescriptions up 50% in the past decade

Britons are taking more medicines than ever before – with more than a billion prescriptions a year now being handed out, figures reveal today.

The number of prescriptions has risen by 50 per cent in a decade and is being driven by a surge in the use of antidepressants, painkillers, statins and drugs for diabetes.

Some elderly patients with a number of long-term illnesses end up taking a cocktail of different drugs each day, which can cause dangerous reactions.

The figures have alarmed medical experts, who say the nation has become ‘over-medicalised’ and that thousands of patients are suffering harmful side effects.

The huge rise has also been partly blamed on a bonus system for GPs that means they earn points, which are then converted into cash, for prescribing treatments for a range of common conditions.

Drugs companies have also been accused of overselling the benefits of treatments while underplaying the side effects.