Exasol Analyzes: Research shows that over 64m prescriptions of antidepressants are dispensed per year in England.

New research using EXACloud shows a massive disparity across the country as antidepressant prescribing surges to over 64 million prescriptions – seven times the number 25 years ago.  The North East prescribes twice the number of antidepressants per person as the South East and London

London, 13 April 2017 – Exasol, provider of the world’s fastest Loading...in-memory Loading...analytic database, today releases the most in-depth analysis ever carried out into antidepressant prescribing in England. For the first time, the prescribing across the country has been visualized in the form of a heat map.

The research findings include:

  • In 1991, English pharmacies handed over nine million prescriptions1, in 2001 it was 24.3 million, in 2011 it was 46 million and now we have reached 64 million prescriptions.
  • There is a large regional variation across the country with a clear link to deprivation in the North and East of England. The highest prescribing district in the country is Blackpool, the only district in England where more than two prescriptions per person per year were given out by GPs.
  • The lowest prescribing is found in Greater London which prescribes half the number of antidepressants compared to the rest of the country

EXASOL analyzed 774 million rows of data released by the Government’s NHS Digital and sourced from the NHS Business Services Authority2. The data captures every GP prescription dispensed at all pharmacies across England in the past six years.  The data was analyzed by data scientists at EXASOL, using the world’s fastest Loading...in-memory Loading...analytic database.

Sean Jackson, chief marketing officer (CMO), EXASOL says: “When analyzing the data, we can see that the prescribing of antidepressants has increased by a large amount in recent years. However, this is only one part of the story: when we delve deeper, we find that the data can uncover further information such as geographic differences across the country.

“With the right data and the right technology, you can turn any problem into a data problem. People suffering from mental health problems need support and respect, these insights can direct help to the right places and it highlights where more resources are necessary.  By uncovering insights using Loading...big data, it shows the factual reality of the problem. However, to be able to analyze such enormous data-sets requires the right tool for the job. We hope the findings will help to raise awareness of this important issue.”


EXASOL is passionate about helping companies to run their businesses smarter and drive profit by analyzing data and information at unprecedented speeds.  The company develops the world’s fastest database for analytics and data warehousing and offers first-class know-how and expertise in data insight and analytics.  The Loading...in-memory Loading...analytic database is the first database to combine Loading...in-memory, columnar compression and massively parallel processing, and is proven to be the world’s FASTEST, topping the list in the TPC-H Benchmark tests for performance.  Companies that depend on EXASOL to analyze their data in real-time include Adidas Group, GfK, IMS Health, King, Olympus, MyThings, Sony Music and Xing.  Follow EXASOL on Twitter at @EXASOLAG.

Notes to editors

If you would like more information on the datasets used for this analysis, please contact Tom Fry or Jonathan Burch on +44 20 8819 3170 or EXASOL@brightbee.co.uk

1 Historical data sourced from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-19076219 – “In 1991, English pharmacies handed over nine million items. In 2001, it was 24.3 million.” 2011 data onwards comes from EXASOL analysis of NHS data.

2 Lists of datasets used:

1. Prescribing data from http://content.digital.nhs.uk/gpprescribingdata – a list of all prescriptions given by GPs and subsequently dispensed in England (From August 2010 to December 2016). This is the largest dataset, amounts to about 774 million rows, over 100 GB of uncompressed data. The data is grouped by month, roughly 1 million prescriptions per month.

2. Practice codes, names and addresses – http://www.hscic.gov.uk/article/2021/Website-Search?productid=18541 – a lookup for the addresses of the practices listed above. In total 9,897 practices are listed (England only).

3.Numbers of Patients Registered at a GP Practice http://www.hscic.gov.uk/catalogue/PUB17927 – gives a breakdown of the patients registered with each practice by age, sex, LSOA** (lower level super output area – small geographic areas with a maximum population of 1000).

** LSOA: Lower Layer Super Output Areas are built from groups of contiguous Output Areas and have been automatically generated to be as consistent in population size as possible, and typically contain from four to six Output Areas. The Minimum population is 1000 and the mean is 1500. There is a Lower Layer Super Output Area for each postcode in England.