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Diabetes medicines account for one tenth of all prescribing in primary care

12 August 2015: Medicines used to treat diabetes(2) in England have accounted for a tenth of the annual primary care prescribing bill for the first time, new figures show (3).

*HSCIC must be quoted as the source of these figures

*Regional figures are available

In 2014/15 the Net Ingredient Cost (NIC)4 for managing diabetes was £868.6 million according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

This represents 10.0 per cent of the total primary care prescribing spend in 2014/15 (£8,704.9 million), compared with 9.5 per cent in 2013/14 and 6.6 per cent in 2005/06.

Today's report, Prescribing for diabetes in England, shows trends for diabetes medicines prescribed in primary care in England during the period April 2005 to March 20155. It shows that in 2014/15:

· 47.2 million items6 were prescribed for diabetes, a 4.6 per cent (2.1 million) increase from 45.1 million items in 2013/14 and a 74.1 per cent (20.1 million) rise on 2005/6 (27.1 million).

· Diabetes medicines accounted for 4.5 per cent (47.2 million) of all prescription items (1,059.8 million) compared with 4.4 per cent (45.1 million) in 2013/14 (1,027.9 million) and 3.8 per cent (27.1 million) in 2005/06 (722.4 million).

In relation to specific types of diabetes medicines:

· 6.7 million insulin items were prescribed (at a NIC of £334.7 million), accounting for 14.1 per cent of all items prescribed for diabetes. This is a 3.1 per cent (0.2 million item) increase on 2013/14 (6.5 million items) and a 41.4 per cent (1.9 million item) increase on 2005/06 (4.7 million items).

33.4 million antidiabetic drug items were prescribed (at a NIC of £350.2 million), accounting for 70.8 per cent of all items prescribed for diabetes. This represents a 5.3 per cent (1.7 million item) increase on 2013/14 (31.7 million items) and is more than double the number of items prescribed in 2005/06 (16.1 million items).

Responsible statistician for the report, Ian Bullard said: "Today's 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.

"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."

You can find the full report at

diabetes as proportion of all prescribing in England


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 260 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 British National Formulary (BNF) classifies three major paragraphs of drugs prescribed for managing diabetes: insulins, antidiabetic drugs and diagnostic and monitoring devices for diabetes
  3. 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 do not include prescriptions written in hospitals/clinics that are dispensed in the community, prescriptions dispensed in hospitals, dental prescribing and private prescriptions.
  4. 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.
  5. A 10 year time series is included in this report; earlier data can be found in previous reports available on the HSCIC website.
  6. Each item written on a prescription form is counted as a single prescription item. The term "prescribed" is used throughout this publication to mean items which were both prescribed and dispensed.
  7. Percentages are shown to one decimal point. Numbers of prescription items and NIC under one million have been rounded to one decimal point.
  8. For media enquiries please contact or 0300 30 33 888.
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