Diabetes Prescriptions Soar

August 25 – The NHS is facing a massively increasing bill for drugs for diabetes, new figures showed yesterday.

The increase reflects increased diagnosis of the condition and increased prevalence caused by rising levels of obesity – as well as the development of popular new drugs.

The condition now accounts for 8.4 per cent of the NHS prescribing bill, according to the NHS Information Centre. This compared with 6.6 per cent five years ago.

Some 38 million prescriptions for diabetes were issued in the year ending in April at a cost of £725 million. The majority were anti-diabetic drugs.

NHS Information Centre chief executive Tim Straughan said: “Today’s report paints a picture of an ever-increasing drugs bill to cope with the demands of society triggered by diabetes. The portion of the NHS drugs bill accounted for by diabetes drugs continues to rise and is now at 8.4 per cent.

“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 moving forward.”

Diabetes UK said that effective use of drugs prevented other costlier health problems.

Bridget Turner, of 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.”

She added: “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.”