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Diabetes drugs 'now account for tenth of primary care prescribing bill'

The number of prescriptions for diabetes drugs has gone up nearly 75% over the past decade and now accounts for around one tenth of the NHS primary care prescribing bill, latest official figures indicate.

Over 47 million prescriptions were issued for diabetes drugs in 2014/15, at a cost of around £870m – 10% of the £8.7bn total primary care prescribing spend for the year, according to the report from the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

This compared with 45 million prescription items or 9.5% of the total primary care prescribing spend in 2013/14 – and 27 milliom items in 2005/06, when they made up 6.5% of the total spend.

Ian Bullard, responsible statistician for the report, said it showed ‘ten pence in the pound of the primary care prescribing bill in England is being spent on managing diabetes’.

He added: ‘Diabetes continues to be one of the most prevalent long-term conditions, and the number of patients being diagnosed with the condition is increasing each year.’

Readers' comments (5)

  • Please tell me how many amputations, heart attacks, strokes we have prevented by using more diabetes treatment, earlier.

    I think if we are improving cardiovascular health by prescribing new drugs that control weight and cardiovascular risk, it should be looked upon as a success, overall.

    The fact that diabetes is more prevalent is more the issue for public health folk to try to stop the population getting bigger and developing the condition in the first place.

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  • Google ' Dr Jason Fung diabetic nephrologist '. He has a non drug treatment of diabetes which has a very plausible medical explanation. It promises to revolutionise the treatment of type 2 diabetes but the catch is, that it relies on self denial, but only for a short period.

    If you have abdominal obesity,the metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes, you have nothing to lose by reading up on his regime.

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  • Failure of public health policy for 30 odd years. And yet somehow still our fault. Whatever.

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  • A couple of rather defensive responses here.

    But I don't see anything in this report to say that the increased spend is a bad thing, or a failing of GPs.

    It's just stating a fact.

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  • Actually it is our fault because our dietary advice is making their diabetes worse. The advice should be to: 'Eat real food and not worry about the fat content, completely avoid sugar , and the only carbohydrates should come from vegetables, a little fruit and some nuts.'

    Instead they are exhorted to base their meals around complex carbs such as bread,pasta,rice and potatoes. This is disastrous advice.

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