Essential facts, stats and quotes relating to prescriptions

Essential facts, stats and quotes relating to prescriptions

This page contains facts, stats and quotes that LPC members may find useful when writing business cases or developing resources to support the commissioning of certain services.

This page is ‘work in progress’ and will continue to be updated with new facts, stats and quotes.

Facts, stats and quotes on other topics can be accessed on the Essential facts, stats and quotes page.

NHS Digital, Prescriptions dispensed in the community, statistics for England 2005/2015 (July 2016)

  • 1,083.6 million prescription items were dispensed overall in 2015, a 1.8% increase (19.1 million items) on the previous year and a 50.4% increase (363.4 million items) since 2005.
  • The total net ingredient cost of prescriptions dispensed in 2015 increased to £9.3 billion, from £8.9 billion in 2014, an increase of 4.7% (£414 million). This is a 16.8% increase (£1330 million) on 2005, when the total cost was £7.9 billion.

  • The leading BNF Section in terms of net ingredient cost, for the ninth year in succession, is BNF 6.1 Drugs used in diabetes.

  • In terms of therapeutic area, the greatest increase in the volume of prescribing in 2015 is of BNF Section 4.3, Antidepressant drugs, (3.9 million items).

  • 89.7% of all prescription items were dispensed free of charge, with 60.4% of all prescription items dispensed free of charge to patients claiming age exemption (aged 60 and over).

NHS Digital, Prescriptions dispensed in the community, statistics for England 2004/2014 (July 2015)

  • 1,064.6 million prescription items were dispensed in 2014, a 3.3% increase (34.5 million items) on the previous year and a 55.2% increase (378.4 million items) since 2004.
  • 89.9% of all prescription items were dispensed free of charge, with 60% dispensed free to patients claiming age exemption (aged 60 and over).

  • In terms of therapeutic area, the greatest increase in the volume of prescribing in 2014 is of BNF Section 4.3, Antidepressant drugs, (3.8 million items).

  • The leading BNF Section in terms of net ingredient cost, for the eighth year in succession, is BNF 6.1 Drugs used in diabetes.
  • The total net ingredient cost of prescriptions dispensed in 2014 increased to £8.9 billion, from £8.6 billion in 2013, an increase of 2.6 per cent (£227.5 million). This is a 9.6% increase (£773.0 million) on 2004, when the total cost was £8.1 billion. 

NHS Digital, Health Survey for England 2013 (December 2014)

  • 43% of men and 50% of women reported that they had taken at least one prescribed medicine in the last week.

  • In 2013, over 1 billion prescription items were dispensed in the community in England. This is an average of 2.7 million items every day. On average, 18.7 prescription items were dispensed per head of population in England in 2013.

  • Prescribing medicines is the most common intervention provided to patients by the NHS. It is the second highest area of spending in the NHS, after staff costs.

  • The cost of medicines in England in 2013 exceeded £15 billion, including costs in hospitals.


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