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Publication, Part of

Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet, England, 2019

Official statistics, National statistics

National Statistics

Part 2: Prescription items for the treatment of obesity

This part presents information on the number of prescriptions for drugs used to treat obesity and the Net Ingredient Cost (NIC) of these prescriptions. The data source is Prescription Analysis and Cost (PACT) data from NHS Prescription Services. It includes items prescribed in primary care and dispensed in the community. It excludes prescriptions written in hospitals that are dispensed in the community, prescriptions dispensed in hospitals, dental prescribing and private prescriptions.

The NIC is the basic cost of a drug as listed in the Drug Tariff or price lists; it does not include discounts, dispensing costs, prescription charges or fees.

Since 2010, Orlistat (Xenical®) is the only drug available in the UK that is recommended specifically for the management of obesity. Orlistat acts by reducing the absorption of dietary fat. Clinical guidelines state that pharmacological interventions should only be used in conjunction with other interventions (exercise, diet).

Prescribing data is now reported by financial year (previously calendar year). However, as this data is only available from 2014/15, time series analysis will continue to be based on calendar years. Calendar year data is included in table 4.1b for this publication only, but will be discontinued in future years. 

Prescription items and cost

Items prescribed, by year

371 thousand items were prescribed for the treatment of obesity in primary care in 2018. That is 8% fewer than in 2017 when there were 401 thousand items, and continues a downward trend since a peak of 1.45 million in 2009.


Net Ingredient Cost (NIC) of items, by year

The NIC of all items rose to £8.1 million in 2018, an increase of 18% from £6.9 million in 2017. However, this is still 82% lower than ten years ago in 2008, when the NIC was £44.8 million.

As such the NIC per item in 2018 was £22, which is £5 higher than 2017 (£17), though still £13 lower compared to 10 years ago (£35).


For more data/information on this section:



Prescription items by population

Prescription items per 1,000 population, by Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)

NHS Stoke on Trent had the highest prescription rate with 17 items per 1,000 population. NHS Barnsley, NHS Halton and NHS Knowsley all had prescription rates of 16 items per 1,000 population.

NHS Nene, NHS Corby and NHS Mansfield and Ashfield all recorded almost zero rates.




Prescription items per 1,000 population, by NHS Commissioning Region

In 2017/18, North of England had the highest prescription rate with 9 items per 1,000 population, and South of England the lowest rate with 5.


For more data/information on this section:

Last edited: 8 July 2021 5:15 pm