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Prescription Cost Analysis – England 2020-21

Published 10 June 2021.


Prescription Cost Analysis (PCA) provides details of the number of items and the Net Ingredient Cost (NIC) of all prescriptions dispensed in the community in England.

We consulted on the content and methodology used in this publication during Winter 2020-21. You can see our response to this consultation on our website. As an outcome of this consultation we have made changes to the methodology used in these statistics and expanded their content. You can see more information on these changes in the Background Information and Methodology note that accompanies this release.

The Prescription Cost Analysis (PCA) 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.

Key findings

  • The cost of prescription items 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 was the most dispensed drug in England in 2020-21 with 49.9 million items, while Apixaban was the drug with the highest cost of £356 million.

  • Sertraline 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.

Resource list

Prescription Cost Analysis 2020-21 - Statistical summary narrative (HTML)

National summary tables - Financial year (Excel: 13MB)

National summary tables - Calendar year (Excel: 13MB)

STP summary tables - Financial year (Excel: 206MB)

STP summary tables - Calendar year (Excel: 209MB)

Additional tables (Excel: 175KB)

Presentation data 2014 to 2020

Background information and methodology note (PDF: 311KB)

User engagement strategy (PDF: 190KB)

Pre-release access list (PDF: 121KB)


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Contact us

If you have any questions, comments, or would like more information you can email

Responsible statistician: Matthew Wilson.