The number of prescriptions handed out in Wales rose by 5% during the first year of free scripts, it has emerged.
There was a 2.9 million rise in prescription numbers with 62 million items dispensed in 2007/08 compared with 59.1 million the previous year.
Figures showed the total cost of prescribing medicines hit £584m – a rise of 1%.
Critics have warned that scrapping the £3 cost of a prescription would pile pressure on the NHS drugs budget at a time when new and expensive treatments are becoming available.
Jenny Randerson, a spokeswoman for the Liberal Democrat party, who opposed the policy, said: “We warned the Assembly Government that giving free prescriptions for all would be disastrous and these figures have vindicated our position. Three million extra items claimed in the last year is a direct result of this policy.”
The Conservative shadow health minister, Jonathan Morgan, said: “It is clear from these figures that the health of Welsh people is not improving.
“The rise in the number of prescriptions issued per person over the last 10 years far exceeds the rise in population.”
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