In the UK, the drugs bill has almost trebled in the last 10 years and is consuming an increasing proportion of the total National Health Service spend. If the drugs bill can be limited, greater funds will be available for other areas of the health service. Therefore, cost containment measures which include prescribing from a formulary or generic prescribing are now widely encouraged. Prescribing analyses and cost trends data generated from pharmacists sending dispensed general practitioners’ prescriptions to a central point for reimbursement are a valuable tool in the assessment of prescribing habits and can be used by general practitioners when preparing a formulary. In the West Midlands, such data have been used to identify areas of growth in cardiovascular drugs and problem areas where prescribing an expensive formulation has led to a dramatic increase in costs.