Diabetes prescriptions costing NHS £1bn

New figures from NHS Digital have revealed that prescriptions for diabetes in England are now costing the NHS more than £1 billion a year.

Over the last 10 years the total cost of the prescriptions has risen by more than £422 million, with nearly one in every 20 prescriptions written by GPs for diabetes treatment.

Diabetes UK say that the figures reflect a dramatic rise in the incidence of diabetes, as the number of people diagnosed with diabetes has doubled in the last 20 years. The charity also said that the increase in prescribing costs is largely a result of the rise in prevalence of type 2 diabetes, which affects around 90 per cent of diabetes patients, and not due to drug costs.

Robin Hewings, head of policy at the charity, said: “This data shows that diabetes prescribing costs £1 billion, but it is estimated that the total cost to the NHS is over £10 billion a year, so the real price we have to pay for diabetes is not medications, but the devastating and expensive complications."

The NHS figures also include the cost of devices used by people with diabetes to monitor their condition, showing that almost £477 million was spent on antidiabetic drugs in 2017-18. Over the same year, around £350 million was spent on insulin, and £181 million on diagnostic and monitoring devices.

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