This site is intended for Healthcare Professionals only

Eight per cent leap in community prescribing costs


Eight per cent leap in community prescribing costs

The cost of dispensing drugs in the community rose by just under eight per cent in the year to April 2023 in England, new NHS BSA statistics reveal.

The NHS BSA’s annual prescription cost analysis (PCA) shows that in 2022-23 the cost to NHS commissioners for items dispensed in the community that had been prescribed in a primary care setting rose from £8.9bn to £9.59bn, a 7.7 per cent increase. This represents 50 per cent of total drugs expenditure, which stood at an estimated £18.5bn when central rebates were deducted from the total net ingredient costs (NICs).

There has been a steady year-on-year increase in primary care prescribing costs, which in 2018-19 stood at £8.05bn. The cost of hospital drugs has also risen, the PCA shows, climbing 8.1 per cent to £9.45bn in the year to April. 

The highest spend in primary care by BNF section was on diabetes drugs (£1.37bn), followed by anticoagulants and protamine (£875m), corticosteroids (£638m) and analgesics (£417m). 

And while Greater Manchester ICB had the highest total primary care spend at £574m, the biggest spend per capita was seen in North Central London ICB, where an average of £554 was spent on hospital and pharmacy drugs per resident against a national average of £349.

Responding to the PCA figures, Royal Pharmaceutical Society England chair Tase Oputu commented: “Medicines are a fundamental part of our health service, saving and enhancing the lives of millions of people every year.

“Today’s figures highlight more than ever the vital role of pharmacists in medicines optimisation, reducing overprescribing and cutting medicines waste.

“At the same time, pharmacy teams must also be enabled to continue supporting the best use of medicines for patients and not feel pressured into focusing solely on cutting costs. 

“The Government and NHS must ensure that local pharmacy leaders have the time and support to develop pharmacy services, working with colleagues across the system. The latest CQC State of Care report showed that this needs additional resource and shouldn’t be seen as an afterthought.

“Investing in pharmacy services can deliver both better outcomes for patients and better value for taxpayers.”  

Copy Link copy link button