Diabetes prescriptions now costing £1bn a year

Prescriptions for diabetics are now costing the NHS in England more than £1 billion a year, new figures show.

NHS Digital said the “total net ingredient” cost of prescriptions for diabetes was £1,012.4 million in 2017/18, up from £983.7 million a year earlier.

Almost one in 20 (4.9%) prescriptions written by GPs are for diabetes treatments, with 53.4 million items prescribed for diabetes last year.

They make up more than a 10th (11.4%) of total primary care net ingredient costs.

The figure is a significant increase on the number of diabetic treatments prescribed a decade ago – including insulins, antidiabetic drugs, and diagnostics and monitoring devices.

In 2007/8 there were 30.8 million prescription items for diabetes.

The biggest recent increases can be seen in treatments for Type 2 diabetes, which affects around 90% of patients.

Almost 3.7 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes in the UK, according to Diabetes UK, while it is estimated that more than five million people will have the condition by 2025.

Professor Jonathan Valabhji, national clinical director for diabetes and obesity at NHS England, said: “Thanks to better diagnosis and treatment, the NHS is caring for more people than ever before with diabetes and this new data highlights the urgent need to prevent Type 2 diabetes from developing in the first place.

“The NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme has now reached over a quarter of a million people at high risk of Type 2 diabetes.”