The total cost of non-insulin antidiabetic drugs in England has increased by 107% between 2015/16 and 2022/23, according to new figures published this week.
This increase occurred at a rate ‘much greater’ than the increase in number of items prescribed, according to the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA), which released the data.
The total cost to the NHS of antidiabetic drugs, which includes metformin hydrochloride, sulfonylureas, acarbose, meglitinides, pioglitazone, DPP-4 inhibitors, SGLT2 inhibitors and GLP-1 receptor agonists, increased from £420m in 2015/16 to £880m in 2022/23.
But the total number of antidiabetic items prescribed increased by 88% from 35m items in 2015/16, to 49m items in 2022/23.
The increase in items was sharpest between 2021/22 and 2022/23, when the number of items prescribed increased by 8%, compared to an average yearly increase of 4% between 2015/16 and 2021/22.
Non-insulin antidiabetic drugs remain the most commonly prescribed treatments for diabetes.
A rise in off-label prescribing has been blamed for GLP-1 receptor agonist shortages, which have been reported since 2022 and are expected to continue until 2025.
Prescribing of diabetes drugs in the community in England increased by 16m items between 2015/16 and 2022/23, the new statistics also revealed.
Last year, 66m drug items used to treat diabetes were prescribed to 3.4m identified patients in England.
This is a 15% increase in the number of items eight years previously, when 50m items were prescribed to 2.7m patients.
And the cost of diabetes drugs increased from £960m in 2015/16 to £1.53bn in 2022/23.
In 2022/23, diabetes drugs were most commonly prescribed to male patients aged 60-64, followed by male patients aged 65-69 and male patients aged 70-74.
And diabetes drugs were prescribed to more patients in areas of greater deprivation. In 2022/23, there were 320,000 more patients prescribed drugs to treat diabetes in the most deprived areas than in the least.