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In this paper we described how we created an open-data exploration tool at OpenPrescribing.net by compiling and normalising England’s national prescribing data for 1998–2016 , with the aim of facilitating the exploration of long-term prescribing trends. We have now updated this tool to include the data for 2017, which was released in March. Anyone can access our data tool at OpenPrescribing.net/long-term-trends.
The Office for National Statistics does not release official mid-year population estimates for the previous year until June. Until then, for 2017 we have used their projected England population figure  and will update the tool again with the final figure when available.
Our tool shows that the total number of items prescribed in 2017 increased marginally on the previous year, with a slight reduction in overall cost, across the core chapters (1-15) of the British National Formulary (BNF). The sections with the greatest increase in cost were Drugs used in Diabetes (+£7.8k inflation-corrected cost per 1,000 population) and Anticoagulants and Protamine (+£6.5k), whereas Lipid-Regulating Drugs decreased by £5.2k. Antidepressant Drugs have seen the largest increase in prescribing (+464 items per 1,000 population). Users can use the tool to explore the data down to the level of individual brands for each chemical substance.
A further improvement to the tool was also carried out recently, to smooth out sudden increases and decreases in prescribi...
A further improvement to the tool was also carried out recently, to smooth out sudden increases and decreases in prescribing which could have caused apparent gaps.
We aim to update the data in this tool for as long as our team has funding to continue work on OpenPrescribing.net.
 Curtis HJ, Goldacre B. OpenPrescribing: normalised data and software tool to research trends in English NHS primary care prescribing 1998-2016. BMJ Open 2018; 8: e019921.