The issuing of a prescription is central to any doctor-patient interaction. Prescribing variation exists and remains largely unexplained. There is little documented evidence of the effect of patient ethnicity on prescribing patterns. We carried out a secondary analysis of data from the General Household Surveys to examine the association between being given a prescription and patient ethnicity. After modelling, we found that Pakistanis and Indians were significantly more likely to receive a prescription from their general practitioner at a consultation compared to white and West Indian ethnic groups. In addition, consultation rate explained the different prescribing rates among women and men in the white group only. This study raises further questions of the underlying reasons causing these differences which need answering.