New medicinesThe NHS spent an estimated £16.8 billion in prescribing in hospitals and community settings in 2015/16 – a rise of 8% from 2014/15 and nearly 30% compared to 2010/11, new figures released by NHS Digital reveal.

Of the total £16.8 billion, £7.6 billion was spent on medicines used in hospitals (45.2%), £9 billion was spent on primary care prescribed medicines (53.9%), and £150.0 million was spent on hospital prescribed medicines dispensed in the community (0.9%).

The cost of medicines dispensed in primary care has also risen steadily over the last 5 years, from £8.6 billion in 2010/11 to £9.0 billion in 2015/16, a rise of 4.6%. As a proportion of the overall NHS expenditure on medicines, primary care dispensed medicines has fallen 12.6% points over this time period (66.5% to 53.9%). This proportional shift in cost is due to the spend on medicines used in hospital, which have increased from £4.2 billion in 2010/11 to £7.6 billion in 2015/16, a rise of 81.8%.

One of the biggest contributors to the increased costs was the introduction of new and innovative medicines, as well as the greater use of specialist medicines. Of the drugs positively appraised by NICE, the greatest overall cost in 2015/16 was for Adalimumab (£416.6m), which also incurred the greatest cost (£391.1 million) in hospitals. This is used for treating auto-immune conditions, including psoriatic arthritis.

For more information on the report, ‘Prescribing costs in hospitals and the community’, visit

Cost changes have not been adjusted for inflation.