Toll of Britain's obesity epidemic exposed as diabetes prescriptions soar by 50 per cent in six years
Diabetes prescriptions cost 760.3million last year – this was 8.9 per cent of the total NHS drugs billWe
face the real possibility of diabetes bankrupting the NHS within a generation, says diabetes charity chiefAround 850,000 people are thought to have diabetes without realising it

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UPDATED:

10:25 GMT, 14 August 2012

Diabetes prescriptions have for the first time topped 40 million a year in England and Wales according to official figures.

The report revealed that prescriptions have risen by 50 per cent over six years from 13.5million items to 40.6million.

This will include insulin for Type 1 diabetics, although these prescriptions have remained steady.

Growing problem: Obesity is one of the biggest risk-factors for developing Type 2 diabetes

Growing problem: Obesity is one of the biggest risk-factors for developing Type 2 diabetes

The increase is due to drugs such as metformin, which are prescribed to many with obesity-related Type 2 diabetes.

Meanwhile the net cost of diabetes drugs has also rocketed by 47.9 per cent over the same period. In 2005/6 diabetes drugs cost the NHS 246.3million while last year it cost 760.3million.

HSCIC chief executive Tim Straughan
said: 'Our figures show diabetes is having a growing impact on
prescribing in a very obvious way – from the amount of prescriptions
dispensed to patients in primary care to the annual drugs bill costs to
the NHS.'

The growth is much greater than seen in prescriptions overall, where items increased by 33 per cent and net
ingredient cost rose by just under 11 per cent in the same period.

As a result diabetes drugs are taking up a bigger share of both total
drugs dispensed and the total net cost to the NHS each year.

Almost three million people in the UK
are affected by diabetes and a further 850,000 may be undiagnosed.
Ninety per cent of those affected have the Type 2 version of the
disease, which is linked to obesity and lifestyle.

Prescriptions include insulin injections, which are usually given to those suffering from Type 1 diabetes

Prescriptions include insulin injections, which are usually given to those suffering from Type 1 diabetes

Diabetes
occurs when the body is no longer able to control the level of sugar in
the blood. Left untreated, it can cause a host of health problems
including heart disease, stroke, nerve damage and blindness.

The
figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) also
revealed that prescriptions were up 6.1 per cent on last year.

Diabetes drugs now account for 8.9 per cent of the total NHS drugs bill.

Barbara
Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said: 'About 2.5 million
people in England have been diagnosed with the condition and the number of
people with diabetes is expected to reach 4.2 million in England by 2025.

'We
face the real possibility of diabetes bankrupting the NHS within a generation.'

Mr Straughan said: 'Other reports we produce, such as our National Diabetes Audit and the Quality and Outcomes Framework, also demonstrate the impact of diabetes is widespread in all areas of the health service; from pharmacy to hospital care.

'When all this information is considered together, it presents a full and somewhat concerning picture of the increasing impact of this condition.'

Diabetes is a condition with two different types.

Type 1 diabetes is when the body produces no insulin, and affects one in 10 with the condition. It usually develops before a person turns 40. Patients have to take insulin injections for life to manage the condition.

Type 2 diabetes affects nine out of 10 people with the condition. It occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin to
function properly, or the body’s cells do not react to insulin. This is
known as resistance. It usually affects those aged over 40 and is related to lifestyle factors such as obesity and heavy drinking.

It can be treated with lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet and regular exercise, however sometimes medication is needed as well. It is also progressive so can get worse over time.

Left untreated,
it can cause a host of health problems including heart disease, stroke,
nerve damage and blindness.

Barbara Young said: 'We need a government-funded awareness
raising campaign on the risk factors and symptoms of Type 2 diabetes and we
need to get much better at identifying people at high risk so they can be given
the support they need to prevent the condition.'