Diabetes costs soar to 10% of total primary care prescribing budget

Diabetes prescribing costs saw their fastest rise in four years in 2014/15, according to data that show prescriptions for the condition now consume 10% of the annual primary care prescribing budget for England.

Prescription: diabetes prescriptions on the rise
Prescription: diabetes prescriptions on the rise

A total of 47.2m items were prescribed in 2014/15 at a cost of £868.6m.

The £65.5m rise in the net ingredient cost of primary care diabetes prescribing – an 8.2% increase compared with 2013/14 – is the largest since 2010/11.

The total number of prescription items rose 4.6% in 2014/15 compared with the previous year.

Data published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre show a steady rise in diabetes prevalence recorded under the QOF by GP practices, from 5.1% in 2008/9 to 6.2% in 2013/14.

Prevalence of diabetes

But the rise in prevalence has been far outstripped by the rise in the proportion of the primary care budget spent on the condition.

In 2005/6, just 6.6% of the primary care prescribing budget was spent on diabetes treatments.

The 33.4m antidiabetic drug items prescribed in 2014/15 at a cost of £350.2m accounted for 70.8% of all items prescribed for diabetes.

The 6.7m insulin items prescribed at a cost of £334.7m accounted for 14.1% of all items prescribed for diabetes.

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