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The painful truth
According to the British Pain Society, up to 28m people in the UK are living with chronic pain.
Many days at work are lost due to pain-related problems: 4.9m days to work-related back pain, according to the TUC, and 9.4m days as a result of rheumatoid arthritis, as estimated by the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, for example.
The cost of chronic pain is unknown, but for back pain it has been estimated to be in the region of £5bn per year to the Exchequer, and studies put a figure of nearly £4bn per annum on how much the NHS spends on adolescent pain per year.
Pain relief is the biggest over-the-counter (OTC) category, worth £576.9m in the 12 months to April 2016, up nearly 2% from the previous year.
Analgesic prescribing is also on the rise. According to figures published by NHS Digital, nearly 69m prescriptions were dispensed during 2015 for opioid and non-opioid analgesics, such as paracetamol and Aspirin, at a cost of £567.4m. This represented an increase of 200,000 items and £32m on the previous year and also a rise of over 21m prescriptions and £230m across the decade.
In 2015, 24.4mi prescriptions were dispensed in the community for rheumatic disease and gout drugs – a category that includes NSAIDs, costing over £160m.