NHS drugs bill for diabetes patientstops £1bn a year

Desiree Burns
November 10, 2018

The NHS spent over £1bn on diabetes drugs past year, accounting for over 11% of the total cost of prescribing in primary care, new figures have revealed. The number has doubled over the last two decades and there are almost 100,000 diagnoses per year.

"GPs and our teams will have these often quite sensitive conversations with our patients but our profession is now operating under intense resource pressures and there is a limit to what we can realistically do within the constraints of the standard 10-minute consultation - and offering longer appointments means offering fewer appointments at a time when patients are already waiting too long to see their GP". The growing number of people with diabetes in the United Kingdom could trigger a 29 per cent rise in the number of heart attacks and strokes linked to the condition by 2035, the charity predicted.

"The number of people diagnosed with the condition 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", he said.

"This data shows that diabetes prescribing costs £1bn, but it's 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".

Some 12 million Britons are at risk of Type 2 diabetes, according to experts.

Now an investigation by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in collaboration with diabetes campaigner Nick Cahm has revealed that 25 of 195 clinical commissioning groups in England have not yet issued a single prescription for the system, despite others offering the device to nearly 25% of people with type 1 diabetes.

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92% of recorded diagnoses of diabetes relate to type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is caused by the body's inability to make insulin, and is controlled by the administration of insulin.

Flash glucose monitoring devices involve a sensor, about the size of a £2 coin, that is attached to the upper arm and constantly measures the level of glucose in the fluid around cells in the body, rather than in the blood, by means of fibres that sit under the skin. In overweight and obese people, type 2 diabetes can be prevented and reversed by losing weight.

One prescription in 20 is for diabetes treatment and drugs used to combat the condition now make up 11.4 per cent of all prescription costs in primary care in England, according to figures from NHS Digital.

Almost £477 million was spent on antidiabetic drugs in 2017-18.

The NHS has called for better prevention of type 2 diabetes in order to reduce the cost of diabetes prescriptions in the UK.

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