Over the past 10 years the number of medicines given out on prescription has increased by around 70%, figures show.
Last year across England 927 million prescriptions were given out at a cost of £8.83bn.
This was up 4.6% on the figures for 2009, and 68% on 2000.
In 2010 the average cost per head in England was £169, up from 2009's figure of £165 and £113 in 2000.
The most expensive bill for prescriptions was for those that treat the central nervous system, with the highest number of drugs dispensed for cardiovascular system problems.
A high number of prescriptions were also given out for heart failure and high blood pressure.
But one of the most costly was prescriptions for diabetes, the NHS Information Centre data shows.
The figures used relate to prescriptions provided by community pharmacists.
Mike Holden, Chief Executive of the National Pharmacy Association, said: "There is a huge amount of waste. Up to half of all medicines for long-term conditions are not taken as intended by the prescriber.
"There is no doubt that much more value for patients and the taxpayer could be extracted from this massive investment by supporting more effective medicines use."