Diabetes drugs account for 10% of total primary care prescribing bill

Prescription costs for diabetes in primary care rose to more than £800m in 2013/14 and now account for almost 10% of prescribing costs, according to HSCIC figures.

Prescriptions: diabetes drugs bill is rising
Prescriptions: diabetes drugs bill is rising

Diabetes drugs in primary care cost the NHS an average of £2.2m every day in 2013/14 in England, accounting for 9.5% of the total primary care drugs bill for the financial year.

This amounts to a net ingredient cost (NIC) of £803m, a rise of 5.1% from the £764m spent in 2012/13, equivalent to an extra £100,000 per day.

In 2005/6, prescribing costs for diabetes accounted for just 6.6% of the total primary care drugs bill.

The NIC for diabetes drugs has since increased by 56.3% since 2005/6, while NIC for all prescribing increased by just 8.2% during the same period.

The figures, released in the latest Prescribing for Diabetes report on Tuesday, also revealed that there were 45.1m prescription items for managing diabetes, an average of 123,610 prescribed a day and up 6.1% from last year.

Rise in insulin prescriptions

Over 6.5m of these prescriptions (14.3%) were for insulin, which overall had a NIC of £328m, a rise of 2.6% from the last financial year. Out of all the drug items, spending on insulin has seen the biggest proportional increase since 2005/6.

Seven out of 10 of the diabetes prescription items were for antidiabetic drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes.

HSCIC chairman Kingsley Manning said: ‘Today’s report brings to light the rising costs for managing diabetes in primary care.

‘Diabetes continues to be one of the most prevalent life-threatening conditions in England and now accounts for almost 10% of the drugs bill. Our latest data highlights the growing implications to the NHS and patients of managing this condition.’

Latest estimates, from 2012/13, suggest around 6% of the population in England have diabetes, and prevalence has steadily been increasing year-on-year.

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