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England: number of distance selling pharmacies 2008-2020

The number of pharmacies operating online has grown substantially since 2009/10. In 2019/20 there were 390 distance selling pharmacies. On the other hand, the number of physical pharmacies in England has been decreasing in the last few years.

Dispensing numbers

In 2019/20, there were over one billion prescription items dispensed from pharmacies in England. The amount of prescriptions dispensed has increased greatly in the last ten years. Over 2.4 thousand pharmacies dispensed an average of over ten thousand items a month in 2019/20, although the average number of items dispensed per month per pharmacy was approximately 6.6 thousand in this year.

What is being dispensed?

The therapeutic class with the highest total of prescription items dispensed was for the cardiovascular system at over 328 million drugs, followed by drugs for the central nervous system which had approximately 214 million items dispensed. The single leading drug dispensed in 2019, was Atorvastatin which treats those with high cholesterol to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Number of distance selling pharmacies in England from 2008/09 to 2019/20

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Release date

November 2020


United Kingdom (England)

Survey time period

financial years 2008/09 to 2019/20

Supplementary notes

Distance pharmacies formally known as Mail Order or Internet Based.
* Updated methodology introduced in 2019/2020 and applied back until 2015/2016.

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Statistics on "Pharmacy care in the United Kingdom"

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