Diabetes drugs cost NHS more than £1bn a year

Diabetes prescriptions are costing the NHS in England more than £1 billion a year, driven by an increase in the number of patients rather than rising drug costs.

Citing NHS England figures, the BBC reported that the total cost of prescriptions has risen significantly, by more than £422 million, in the last 10 years.

The biggest increases are seen in treatments for type 2 diabetes, accounting for about 92% of diabetes patients.

According to the charity Diabetes UK, the figures reflect a dramatic rise in the incidence of the disease.

Robin Hewings, head of policy at the charity Diabetes UK told the BBC that drug costs have not risen over the last two decades.

The increase in prescribing costs is largely a result of the rise in prevalence of the disease, he said.

Hewings said: “The number of people diagnosed with diabetes has doubled in the last 20 years, and it is responsible for 26,000 early deaths per year alongside serious complications such as blindness, amputation or stroke.

“This data shows that diabetes prescribing costs £1bn, but it is estimated that the total cost to the NHS is over £10bn a year, so the real price we have to pay for diabetes is not medications, but the devastating and expensive complications.”

According to figures from NHS England, there are now three million people in England with a diagnosis of diabetes.

The number has doubled over the last two decades and there are nearly 100,000 diagnoses per year.

Almost seven out of 10 men (66.8%) are overweight or obese and almost six out of 10 women (57.8%) are overweight or obese in England.

In overweight and obese people, type 2 diabetes can be prevented and reversed by losing weight.

Type 2 diabetes is caused by the body not producing enough insulin, or by the body’s cells not reacting to the insulin that is present, resulting in high blood pressure.

Professor Jonathan Valabhji, national clinical director for diabetes and obesity at NHS England said that the NHS is caring for more people than ever before with diabetes, adding that a prevention programme has now reached over a quarter of a million people at high risk of the disease.


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