Diabetes accounted for 8.9% of prescribing costs in NHS England in 2011/12

The NHS Information Centre has released audit data for prescriptions for diabetes medications in England in the financial year 2011/12.

Along with an executive summary and full text PDF of the report, the NHS has released the source data stratified by PCT and a data quality statement to assist interpretation.

The prescribing data covers insulins, oral antidiabetic drugs (OADs) and diagnostic and monitoring devices.

Highlights of the report include:

  • 40.6 million items were prescribed for diabetes, up 6.1% on the previous year
  • The net cost of these items was £760.3 million, up  4.8%
  • Diabetes accounted for 8.9% of the total costs of NHS prescribing.

Just under half of these costs were for insulin:

  • 6.1 million insulin items were prescribed, at a net ingredient cost of £314.7 million
  • Human analogue insulins were the most commonly prescribed form of insulin.

For OADs:

  • accounted for 69% of all prescription items for diabetes, at a cost of £281.0 million, up 8% on the previous year
  • spending has risen by 91% since 2005/6
  • a detailed breakdown of the costs of each drug are given.

For diagnostic and monitoring devices:

  • Spending was £158.4m, up 3.5% on the previous year
  • This represents 20.8% of total prescribing costs for diabetes
  • Over 96% of items were for blood glucose testing.

These data do not include treatment costs for diabetes complications.


The Health and Social Care Information Centre, Prescribing and Primary Care Services.  Prescribing for Diabetes in England: 2005/6 to 2011/12.  14th August 2012.


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I am an information scientist with an interest in making knowledge from systematic research more accessible to people who need it. This means you. I've been attempting this in the area of Evidence-Based Health Care since 1995. So far the results have been mixed. For some reason we expected busy clinicians to search databases and appraise papers instead of seeing patients. We also expected publishers to make the research freely available to the people who paid for it.. Ha! Hence The National Elf service.

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