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Cost of diabetes drugs now 8.4 per cent of annual NHS drugs bill

Diabetes prescriptions now account for 8.4 per cent of the entire NHS net bill for primary care drugs in England, according to a new report from the NHS Information Centre.

'Prescribing for Diabetes: England 2005/06–2010/11' shows an increase in the cost of prescribing from £513 million in 2005/06 to £725 million in 2010/11 – an increase of 41.1 per cent. Over the same period, the number of items dispensed to treat the condition rose by 41.2 per cent, from 27.1 million to 38.3 million. This means that one in every 25 prescription items written is now for diabetes.

Around two thirds of these items are anti-diabetic drugs such as metformin, which help the body’s own production and use of insulin, with various forms of insulin making up a further 15 per cent of prescribed items.

Planning how best to address the condition

Tim Straughan, NHS Information Centre chief executive, said: "This report paints a picture of an ever-increasing drugs bill to cope with the demands of society triggered by diabetes...

"This information will help people and health professionals see the impact that caring for diabetes has on NHS prescribing; and support the NHS in planning for how to best address the condition."

Access to the most appropriate treatments

Bridget Turner, Head of Policy and Care Improvement at Diabetes UK, said, "This report reinforces that diabetes is one of the biggest health challenges this country faces. Increasing diabetes prevalence has largely caused this rise in cost and numbers of prescriptions.

"Diabetes UK believes that people should have access to the most appropriate treatment to manage their diabetes and reduce the risk of devastating complications. The long term costs of poor diabetes management such as caring for someone who’s had a heart attack or stroke, lost their sight or lower limb, far outweigh those of the drugs that help prevent such complications.

"Investment in education, support and improving access to reduce variations of care will empower people to effectively self-manage their condition. This will tackle the spiralling rates and costs of diabetes and help those diagnosed with the condition stay healthy."

Full report

You can access the full report on theNHS Information Centre website.

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