MORE than 215,000 prescriptions to help treat dementia were handed out last year, marking a rise of almost 60,000 in two years.

The Tories said the statistics provide "evidence on the ground of how the curse of dementia is becoming an increasing problem".

A total of 215,359 items were dispensed to dementia sufferers in 2013-14 - the equivalent of prescribing a pill to treat the condition 24 times an hour, according to the Conservatives. But while the number of prescriptions had jumped from 155,686 two years previously, the cost of the drugs almost halved over that period.

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The bill for the drugs was £8.3 million in 2013-14, compared to £15 million in 2011-12.

Scotland's ageing population has sparked fears that the number of people suffering from the condition will rise in the coming years.

Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw described the disease as "one of the 21st century's major health challenges".

He said: "With Scotland likely to have a population that ages at a greater rate than the rest of the UK, we need to be ready. The Scottish Government has been warned for some time that this is very much a health and social care time-bomb."

A Scottish Government spokesman said it was "well aware that dementia is one of the foremost public health challenges facing Scotland, having made it a national priority in 2007 and published our first Dementia Strategy in 2010".

It added: "The increase in prescription of dementia drugs reflects great progress made towards improving timely diagnosis in Scotland. Scotland's rate of dementia diagnosis is around 20 per cent higher than England and Wales."