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Publication, Part of

Prescribing Costs in Hospitals and the Community, England 2017/18

Official statistics


Revised 8 May 2019 - A correction has been made in Table 2 of the table and charts file for the total costs and the annual percentage change figure for the overall medicines cost for each region. These figures should have been corrected in November as part of the original revision. The associated regional csv data file has also been revised. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Revised 15 March 2019 - A correction has been made to the key findings and paragraph 12 of the report for the percentage change figure between 2010/11 and 2017/18 for the overall medicines cost. This was incorrectly stated as 28.4% when it should be 39.6%. This figure has now been corrected. No data files are affected by this change. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Revised 30 November 2018 – A correction has been made to this publication on 30 November 2018. This amendment relates to statistics for the overall cost of medicines at list price used in hospitals, before any discounts, for the latest 3 years as they were considerably overstated. This also impacted on the totals provided for all medicine costs at list price. All figures have now been corrected. NHS Digital apologises for any inconvenience caused.

This report shows the overall cost at list price, before any discounts, of medicines used in hospitals and those used in primary care. It also looks at the medicines positively appraised by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

All costs given in this report are medicine costs at list price before any discounts. Where hospital and total costs are stated throughout the report the figures refer to estimated costs at list price. Cost at list price is the basic cost of a drug excluding VAT and is not necessarily the price the NHS paid. It does not take account of any contract prices or discounts, dispensing costs, fees or prescription charges income, so the amount the NHS paid will be different.

Key Facts

• The overall medicines cost at list price in the NHS, before any discounts, in 2017/18 was £18.2 billion, an increase of 4.6 per cent from £17.4 billion in 2016/17 and an increase of 39.6 per cent from £13.0 billion in 2010/11.

• In 2017/18 hospital use accounted for 50.4 per cent (£9.2 billion) of the total cost at list price, before any discounts, up from 47.6 per cent (8.3 billion) in 2016/17 and up from 32.1 per cent (£4.2 billion) in 2010/11.

• In 2017/18 the total hospital cost at list price increased by 10.8 per cent on the previous year in contrast to a decrease of 1.0 per cent in primary care.

Administrative Sources


Last edited: 8 May 2019 8:53 am