The number of prescriptions made for diabetes medications in England has risen by nearly 50 per cent over the past six years, with new official figures showing that numbers topped 40 million for the first time last year.
Data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), published in the ‘Prescribing For Diabetes In England’ report, revealed that diabetes drug prescriptions totalled 40.6 million in 2011-12 – up from 13.5 million in 2005-06 and 2.3 million (6.1 per cent) higher than the previous year.
Over the same period, the net cost of diabetes drugs also rose by just under 50 per cent (from £514 million to £760.3 million).
By comparison, the report showed that growth in overall prescriptions was 33 per cent between 2005-06 and 2011-12, and while the overall cost of drugs to the NHS declined by 1 per cent last year, the diabetes medicine bill increased by almost 5 per cent.
Tim Straugha, chief executive of the HSCIC, said: “Our figures show diabetes is having a growing impact on prescribing in a very obvious way, from the amount of prescriptions dispensed to patients in primary care to the annual drugs bill costs to the NHS.
“Other reports we produce, such as our National Diabetes Audit and the Quality and Outcomes Framework, also demonstrate the impact of diabetes is widespread in all areas of the health service: from pharmacy to hospital care.
“When all this information is considered together, it presents a full and somewhat-concerning picture of the increasing impact of this condition.”
Commenting on the data, Health minister Simon Burns said: “The rising cost of treating diabetes on the NHS shows why it is so important that we take urgent action to tackle the problems caused by obesity. That is why this Government has for the first time ring-fenced public health funding, making sure that it is spent on trying to prevent people from becoming obese in the first place.”

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