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Prescription costs for England published by the NHS

The annual Prescription Cost Analysis (PCA) includes information about the costs and volumes of prescriptions that have been dispensed in England.

NHS Business Services Authority published the official statistics this morning.

The key findings showed that:

  • The cost of prescription items dispensed in the community in England was £9.69 billion, a 0.87% increase of £83.7 million from £9.61 billion in 2020/21.
  • The number of prescription items dispensed in the community in England was 1.14 billion, a 2.58% increase of 28.7 million items from 1.11 billion in 2020/21.
  • Atorvastatin (a statin medication) was the most dispensed drug in England in 2021/22 with 53.4 million items, while Apixaban (an anticoagulant) was the drug with the highest cost of £401 million.
  • FreeStyle Libre 2 Sensor kit (a glucose monitoring system) was the presentation with the largest absolute increase in cost between 2020/21 and 2021/22 of £69.8 million, from £2.84 million to £72.6 million.

Among other analysis the Prescription Cost Analysis includes the top 10 most dispensed drugs in England and comparisons across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

This publication is a National Statistic release. National Statistics status means that the Prescription Cost Analysis meets the highest standards of trustworthiness, quality, and public value and complies with all aspects of the Code of Practice for Statistics.

For the full report go to:

Contact Information

Sahdia Hassen

Senior Media and Campaigns Officer

NHS Business Services Authority

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.

  • Prescription ‘items’ refer to individual drugs or inhalers etc on a prescription form, however a ‘prescription’ can include multiple medicines on it.
  • These statistics are based on the financial year and not on the calendar year as some other sources of data may be.
  • These medicines are classified by their main usage. However, they can sometimes be prescribed for other reasons. For example, some antidepressants can be used to treat people suffering from chronic primary pain. We don’t capture this at NHSBSA during processing, and so can’t determine the reason that a prescription was issued. Due to this, these statistics may not give a completely accurate estimation of the population receiving treatment for a specific mental health condition. Drug therapy is just one way that mental health conditions can be treated. These statistics do not tell us how many patients access other forms of treatment, such as psychological therapy.
  • A chemical substance is the standard registered name for the active constituent of that medicine, for example Omeprazole. A chemical substance groups together individual presentations that share this active constituent. For example, Omeprazole 20mg gastro-resistant capsules and Omeprazole 40mg gastro-resistant capsules.