Statins prescribing pattern in the UK

Access to the full content of this site is available only to registered healthcare professionals. Register to read more


  • The availability of generic simvastatin and atorvastatin has significantly reduced overall expenditure on statins in England.
  • When costs are similar, potency appears to influence prescribing choice.

Why this matters

  • Expenditure on statins has been a significant contributor to the increasing burden on the National Health Service budget.

Key results

  • During the period 1998 to 2004, driven by branded simvastatin and atorvastatin, a 125% increase in the primary care expenditure on statins was recorded (from £170,388,500 to £738,114,800).
  • The average strengths of prescribed generic simvastatin and atorvastatin were significantly higher than branded simvastatin (P<.005) and atorvastatin (P<.05), respectively.
  • In terms of use, branded atorvastatin exceeded branded simvastatin before 2003.
  • After patent expiry of branded simvastatin in 2003, generic simvastatin achieved 66% of the statins market share by 2011.
  • Similarly, after the patent expiry of branded atorvastatin in 2012, generic atorvastatin had 50% of the market share in primary care by 2015.
  • Rosuvastatin failed to make a significant effect on the English market.

Study design

  • Retrospective study evaluated the changes in primary care use pattern of all statins in England between 1998 and 2015.
  • Funding: None disclosed.


  • Data derived from prescriptions dispensed rather than prescription written.