Hand holding pills

Annual prescription costs for England published today

Published by NHS Business Services Authority, the annual Prescription Cost Analysis (PCA) includes information about the costs and volumes of prescriptions that have been dispensed in England. It is an Official National Statistics publication.

Key findings this year:

  • The cost of prescription items (each item on a prescription) dispensed in the community in England was £9.61 billion, a 3.49% increase of £324 million from £9.28 billion in 2019/20.
  • The number of prescription items dispensed in the community in England was 1.11 billion, a 1.90% decrease of 21.5 million items from 1.13 billion in 2019/20.
  • Atorvastatin (a ‘statin’ which reduces the amount of cholesterol made by the liver) was the most dispensed drug in England in 2020/21 with 49.9 million items, while Apixaban (an anticoagulant to prevent blood clots) was the drug with the highest cost of £356 million.
  • Sertraline (antidepressant) 100mg tablets was the presentation with the largest absolute increase in cost between 2019/20 and 2020/21 of £78.9 million, from £21.0 million to £99.9 million. (The costs of sertraline increased by 376% between 2019/20 and 2020/21, while the number of items prescribed increased by 7.51%).

The cost of prescription items dispensed in England in 2020/21 was £9.61 billion. This was a 3.49% increase of £324 million from £9.28 billion in 2019/20 and a 7.41% increase of £663 million from £8.94 billion in 2014/15. This is the second consecutive year that the cost of items dispensed in England has increased following three consecutive years of decreases between 2015/16 and 2018/19.

A price concession was granted for sertraline 100mg and 50mg by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) for the period April 2020 to October 2020. Concessions are granted where pharmacists may face difficulties in getting medicines at their usual prices due to supply or other issues. They are announced on the NHSBSA website.

The Prescription Cost Analysis includes the top 10 most dispensed drugs in England. Five of these including Atorvastatin above, often treat cardiovascular ailments, (Atorvastatin, Amlodipine, Ramipril, Bisoprolol fumarate, and Aspirin).

For the full report go to: https://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/statistical-collections/prescription-cost-analysis-england/prescription-cost-analysis-england-202021.

Contact Information

Sahdia Hassen

NHSBSA

sahdia.hassen@nhs.net

Notes to editors

You can view regional breakdowns by sustainability and transformation partnerships (STP) which are health geographies that are formed by NHS organisations, local councils, and others to set out proposals to improve health and care for the local population.

  • This publication is a National Statistic release. National Statistics status means that PCA meets the highest standards of trustworthiness, quality, and public value and complies with all aspects of the Code of Practice for Statistics.
  • The designation of this publication as a National Statistic was confirmed in May 2021 following an assessment by the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR). You can read more about this confirmation and the assessment of these statistics on the OSR website.