THE number of free prescriptions handed out in Wales has risen for the 11th year in a row, figures have shown.
More than 2.5 million more prescriptions were issued in Wales in 2011 — taking the number to 72.7 million, a Welsh Government report has said.
But the overall cost of Wales's free prescription policy fell by more than £7 million to £587.2 million.
Free prescriptions were introduced in Wales in 2007.
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The policy has been criticised by some as "unsustainable" in the face of the year-on-year rise.
The report also shows that last year Wales dispensed 24 prescriptions per head — more than any other region in the UK.
England — the only country still charging for prescriptions — dispensed 18.4, Scotland had 18.3 and 20.2 in Northern Ireland.
Free prescriptions were introduced in Northern Ireland in 2010 and Scotland followed in 2011.
Prescriptions in England increased by 25p earlier this year and currently cost £7.65.