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Number of diabetes prescriptions in England rises to 40 million

The number of prescriptions given for diabetes drugs in primary care in England has increased by 50 per cent in six years, according to official figures.

Diabetes prescription numbers have exceeded 40 million for the first time last year, according to data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), who looked at prescriptions from GPs, nurses and pharmacists in England for medicines which are used in the management of diabetes.

Diabetes prescriptions taking up bigger share of cost to NHS

The HSCIC compared prescribing in 2011/12 to 2005/06 and found that six years ago diabetes drugs in primary care cost £514 million. Last year they cost £760.3 million. This is also a rise of 50% in six years.

The reportPrescribing For Diabetes In England: 2005/6 to 2011/12shows diabetes drugs are taking up a bigger share of both total drugs being dispensed and the total net cost to the NHS each year.

The British National Formulary divides all prescribed drugs in England into 200 categories. Since 2007/08, the cost of the diabetes drugs category has been higher than any other.

If not tackled, diabetes could bankrupt NHS within a generation

Barbara Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said, “This report shows that spending on diabetes-related medicines is rising and one of the main reasons for this increase is that there are now more people with diabetes. About 2.5 million people in England have been diagnosed with the condition and the number of people with diabetes is expected to reach 4.2 million in England by 2025. We face the real possibility of diabetes bankrupting the NHS within a generation.

Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90 per cent of diabetes cases

“This is why we need to grasp the nettle on preventing Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for around 90 per cent of diabetes cases. We need a government-funded awareness raising campaign on the risk factors and symptoms of Type 2 diabetes and we need to get much better at identifying people at high risk so they can be given the support they need to prevent the condition.

“The existing NHS Health Check, which everyone between the ages of 40 and 74 should be getting, has the potential to do this but has so far been poorly implemented. It is only by improving this that we can end the steep rise in the number of people with diabetes and so begin to bring the spiraling financial cost of the condition under control.

Diabetes-related medicine vital to prevent complications

“Until this happens, the increase in spending on diabetes-related medicines is inevitable when you consider that they are vital to reduce the risk of complications such as blindness, amputation, kidney failure and stroke and of premature death.”

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