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Spending on medications used to treat diabetes has significantly risen over the past 10 years. The sector now accounts for a tenth of the primary care prescribing bill, making the cost of diabetes the highest costs out of any of the sectors listed in the bill.

A study by the NHS prescription data group Health and Social Care Information Centre showed that over the last 12 months the cost of managing diabetes has risen to £868.6m  - 10% of the total £8.7bn spent on primary care prescription. Ten years ago these same medicines accounted for just 6.6% of the total prescribing budget.

The data comes as part of a new report ‘Prescribing for diabetes in England’, which focused on trends in spending on medicines for the condition between April 2005 and March 2015.  The data included all prescriptions written and dispensed by prescribers working in primary care in England, including GPs, nurses and pharmacists.

Ian Bullard, the statistician responsible for the findings, told PMLive: “The report looks at trends in prescribing for medicines used to treat diabetes in England. It shows that ten pence in the pound of the primary care prescribing bill in England is being spent on managing diabetes.”

47.2 million items were prescribed to treat diabetes in 2014/15 – a rise of 4.6% compared to the previous year. This data shows that it’s an increase in the need for the medicines that is driving the overall spending on diabetes medicines up, not a rise in the cost of the medications themselves.

In fact, the number of people living with diabetes in the UK has soared by nearly 60% in the past decade, with 3.3 million people in the UK now living with the condition. The majority of these patients are coping with Type 2 diabetes, which is primarily influenced by lifestyle and diet.

“Diabetes continues to be one of the most prevalent long-term conditions,” claimed Bullard. “And the number of patients being diagnosed with the condition is increasing each year.”

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