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NHS prescriptions for diabetes drugs doubles to 50 million

Diabetes drugs are costing the NHS almost £1 billion a year amid rising levels of obesity, official figures show.

Some 52 million prescriptions were written out last year and this number has almost doubled in a decade.

GPs are now spending a tenth of their medicines budget on diabetes drugs as well as devices so patients can check their blood sugar.

Just over 3 million patients in England have diabetes so these latest figures suggest they are an average of 17 prescriptions each.

In reality, patients with severe diabetes will be on many more medications while those with only mild forms won't be taking any drugs at all.

Experts said the rise in prescriptions was a reflection of the soaring number of cases of diabetes, which has been driven by obesity.

Some 52 million prescriptions were written out last year and this number has almost doubled in a decade, official figures show

Some 52 million prescriptions were written out last year and this number has almost doubled in a decade, official figures show

It is also due to GPs becoming better at monitoring and treating the illness to try and avoid patients developing fatal complications.

Some 90 per cent of cases are type 2 diabetes, which is linked to obesity and inactivity, and the remainder have type 1, which is genetic.

Both forms lead to patients' blood sugar levels becoming abnormally high putting them at risk of kidney failure, loss of eyesight, heart attacks and strokes.

How many prescriptions were written? 

Figures from NHS Digital show that 52 million diabetes prescriptions were written out in 2016/17, up from 28.9 million in 2006/7.

This was at a cost of £983.7 million, up from £572.4 million ten years ago.

There are an estimated 3,033,500 adults and children with diabetes and this has increased by 55 per cent since 2006/7.

Charities say a further 12 million are at risk of developing the condition due to their poor diets and lifestyles.

Tam Fry, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, said: 'This rise in the diabetes drugs bill is another tragic consequence of successive UK governments failing to tackle obesity, a major trigger for type 2 diabetes.

He predicted that the drugs bill would 'escalate exponentially' adding: 'If nothing else breaks the NHS, this treatment will.'

Prevention is vital 

DRINK ALCOHOL TO SLASH YOUR RISK

Drinking alcohol ‘little and often’ on most days of the week could lower your risk of diabetes, it was reported last week.

A study found men who drink three

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