The statin medication atorvastatin was the most dispensed drug in England in 2021/22 with 53.4m items, with overall dispensing figures slightly rising, data has shown.

The figure on the costs and volumes of prescriptions dispensed in England in 2021/22, published today (9 June) by the NHS Business Services Authority, found atorvastin was by far the most prescribed drug, followed by heartburn medication omeprazole at 35.3m items. 

It also revealed that apixaban, an anticoagulant, was the drug with the highest cost of £401m, followed by enteral nutrition - also known as tube feeding - at £312m.

Meanwhile, the glucose monitoring system the FreeStyle Libre 2 Sensor kit had the largest absolute increase in cost between 2020/21 and 2021/22 of £69.8m, from £2.84m to £72.6m.

Overall, the data showed the cost of prescription items dispensed in the community in England was £9.69bn, a 0.87% increase of £83.7 million from £9.61bn in 2020/21.

The number of prescription items dispensed in the community in England was 1.14 bn, a 2.58% increase of 28.7m items from 1.11bn in 2020/21.

This comes after prescription charges in England were frozen for the first time in over a decade in May to help the public with cost-of-living pressures.

The 10 most dispensed chemical substances by total items in 2021/22:

  • Atorvastatin – 53.4m items
  • Omeprazole – 35.3m items
  • Levothyroxine sodium – 33.3m items
  • Amlodipine – 33.3m items
  • Lansoprazole – 31.4m items
  • Ramipril – 30.5m items
  • Bisoprolol fumarate – 26.6m items
  • Colecalciferol – 25.3m items
  • Metformin hydrochloride – 23.6m items
  • Salbutamol – 21.2m items

The 10 most dispensed chemical substances by cost in 2021/22:

  • Apixaban - £401m
  • Enteral nutrition - £312m
  • Beclometasone dipropionate - £294m
  • Rivaroxaban - £243
  • Glucose blood testing reagents - £129m
  • Influenza vaccine - £128m
  • Budesonide - £120m
  • Fluticasone propionate (inhalation - £120m
  • Other food for special diet preparations - £99m
  • Colecalciferol - £97m