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Barbiturate prescribing in general practice in Northern Ireland was monitored from computer data on prescription pricing for the years 1966 to 1979, and subjected to two methods of statistical analysis.
Over the last decade a very marked decline in the prescribing of barbiturate hypnotics was accompanied by progressive decreases in barbiturate anti-epileptic and combination product utilization. During the 1975 to 1977 CURB campaign there was a statistically significant greater decrease in the total quantity of barbiturate hypnotics prescribed, but the downward trend in the numbers of prescriptions written was not significantly greater than before the campaign. The main effect of CURB, therefore, was to reduce the average quantity of barbiturate per prescription. The changes in barbiturate combination product prescribing between the CURB years were consistently large, whilst anti-epileptic barbiturate prescribing decreased less significantly towards the end of the campaign.