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2.2 million pounds spent every day on diabetes drugs in primary care

More than 120,000 prescription items dispensed each day.

*HSCIC must be quoted as the source of these figures

*Regional figures are available

Prescriptions to manage diabetes in primary care cost the NHS £2.2 million on average every day in 2013-14, new figures show.2,3

Today's Prescribing for Diabetes report from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) shows the Net Ingredient Cost (NIC)3 for managing diabetes was £803.1 million in 2013-14. This is a 5.1 per cent increase from £764.1 million in 2012-13 (£2.1 million per day on average) and a 56.3 per cent increase on £513.9 million in 2005-06 (£1.4 million per day on average).

Almost 10 per cent (9.5 per cent) of the total primary care drugs bill was spent on managing diabetes and this shows a continuous annual rise from 6.6 per cent in 2005-06.

This report provides the latest trends for diabetes medicines prescribed in primary care in England in the period April 2005 to March 2014.

Today's report shows that in primary care in 2013-14:

  • There were 45.1 million prescription items4 for managing diabetes, an average of 123,610 items per day. This is a rise of 6.1 per cent on last year (42.5 million, or 116,510 items per day on average) and 66.5 per cent rise on 2005-06 (a rise of 18.0 million or 49,370 items per day on average).
  • Insulin items can be prescribed for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes and accounted for about one in seven (14.3 per cent or 6.5 million items) items prescribed for diabetes which is similar to 2012-13 (14.6 per cent or 6.2 million) and slightly lower than in 2005-06 (17.4 per cent or 4.7 million).
  • Seven out of ten diabetes prescription items were for antidiabetic drugs5 which are prescribed only for type 2 diabetes (70.3 per cent or 31.7 million items). This is a 6.9 per cent increase on 29.7 million items in 2012-13, and almost double the figure in 2005-06 (16.1 million items).
  • Diagnositic and monitoring devices made up the remainder of diabetes items prescribed and the majority of these were blood glucose testing strips.
  • Costs of all three categories of diabetes drugs have increased from 2005-06 but in particular insulin items where the rise in spending was 11.6 per cent higher than the rise in items prescribed.

HSCIC Chair 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 per cent of the drugs bill. Our latest data highlights the growing implications to the NHS and patients of managing this condition."

You can find the full report at 


Notes to editors

1. The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) was established on April 1 2013 as an Executive Non Departmental Public Body (ENDPB). It is England's trusted data source, delivering high quality information and IT systems to drive better patient services, care and outcomes. Its work includes publishing more than 220 statistical publications annually; providing a range of specialist data services; managing informatics projects and programmes and developing and assuring national systems against appropriate contractual, clinical safety and information standards.

2. The prescribing information used in this report was obtained from the Prescribing Analysis and Cost Tool (PACT) system, which covers prescriptions prescribed by GPs, nurses, pharmacists and others in England and dispensed anywhere in the UK. Prescriptions written in England but dispensed outside England are included. PACT data does not include prescriptions written in hospitals/clinics that are dispensed in the community, prescriptions dispensed in hospitals, dental prescribing and private prescriptions.

3. Net Ingredient Cost (NIC) is the cost of a drug item before discounts and does not include any dispensing costs or fees and therefore does not represent the actual cost to the NHS, however the overall messages are very similar. It does not include any adjustment for income obtained where a prescription charge is paid at the time the prescription is dispensed or where the patient has purchased a pre-payment certificate.

4. The British National Fomualry (BNF) classifies three major paragraphs of drugs prescribed for managing diabetes: Insulin items, Antidiabetic drugs and Diagnostic and monitoring devices for diabetes.

5. Other antidiabetic drugs exclude insulin and are mainly oral preparations.

6. Details of all items dispensed, including costs, were published in the Health and Social Care Information Centre's Prescription Cost Analysis (PCA) publication on April 2014.

7. Percentages are shown to one decimal point.Number of prescription items under one million have been rounded to the nearest 10.

8. Each single item written on the form is counted as a prescription item.

9. For media enquiries please contact or 0300 303 3888.

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