They are responsible for dispensing medicines, instructing patients on their proper use, clarifying with GPs and other prescribers that dosages are correct, and checking that new treatments are compatible with other medicines the patient may be taking. Community pharmacists also sell over-the-counter medical products and instruct patients on the use of medicines and medical appliances. Some provide a minor ailments service which supports self care through improved access to advice and a range of medicines used to treat common conditions without the need for a GP consultation. Some pharmacists will also offer specialist health checks, such as blood pressure monitoring and diabetes screening, run stop smoking clinics and weight reduction programmes.
In 2013, 38.7m prescription items were dispensed in the community in Northern Ireland. This is an increase of 2 per cent (820,000 items) on the number dispensed in 2012. This equates to approx. 106,000 items every day or over 70 every minute.
The net ingredient cost (NIC) in 2013 was £409m, an increase of less than 0.1 per cent (£285,000) on the NIC in 2012.
The average NIC per item in 2013 was £10.58, a decrease of 2 per cent (22 pence) on the average NIC per item in 2012.
Prescription cost analysis
Prescription cost analysis (PCA) provides details of the number of items and the ingredient cost before discount of all prescriptions dispensed in the community in Northern Ireland. The drugs dispensed are listed by British national formulary (BNF) therapeutic class. Each UK country produces the prescription cost analysis (PCA).