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Antidiabetic prescribing jumps 21% over 5 years

The number of antidiabetic medicines prescribed in the community in England has risen by more than a fifth over the past five years, new NHS statistics reveal.

Earlier today (August 26) the NHS BSA published its Prescribing for Diabetes review, revealing that in 2020-21 43.1 million oral antidiabetic items were prescribed, up 21.5 per cent from 35.5 million items in 2015-16.

This growth in prescribing may be slowing down, with the period between 2019-20 and 2020-21 showing the smallest increase (1.5 per cent) in the observed period.

However, the increase in cost of antidiabetic medicines to the NHS is “much greater than the respective increases in the number of prescribed items,” said the BSA, noting that costs have risen by 62 per cent over the five years observed in the review and currently stand at £686m.

Treatments in the other 3 BNF paragraphs included in the review – insulin, hypoglycaemia treatments and diagnostic and monitoring products – were all prescribed less in 2020-21 than the previous year, with hypoglycaemia treatment prescriptions dropping by 6.75 per cent in a single year.

Meanwhile, the number of patients identified as having diabetes in England has risen by 12.7 per cent over the last five years, up from 2.7 million people in 2015-16 to 3.05 million in 2020-21.

However, the increase in patients appears to be slowing, with the increase between 2019-20 and 2020-21 the lowest observed in the period at 1.5 per cent (average yearly increase 2.65 per cent).

The data also shows that 70-74 age group has replaced 65-69s as the group most frequently prescribed, while areas of greater deprivation emerge as having consistently higher rates of diabetes, with prescribing being 264 per cent higher in the most deprived areas of England than the least deprived.




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