Additional findings reveal more men receiving drugs for diabetes than women.

The latest report on NHS prescriptions over the last year has revealed that 60.3 million drug items used in treating diabetes were prescribed in England at a cost of £1.25 billion.

This figure makes up 13% of the total spend on all prescription items prescribed in England. This represents an increase from 2015/16 where 49.7 million diabetes items were prescribed in England for a cost of £958 million, making up 10.4% of the total spend on all prescription items.

The ‘Prescribing for Diabetes – England 2015/16 to 2021/22’ report was recently published by the NHS Business Services Authority.

The report highlighted that areas of greater deprivation had the highest number of identified patients who were being prescribed drugs used in treating diabetes in 2021/22, with two and a half times as many patients receiving prescriptions from practices in the most deprived areas of the country compared to the least deprived – based on healthcare figures between the most affluent and the poorest local authorities in England.

A selection of medications in the form of tablets.


In addition, there were more men than women who received drugs used in treating diabetes. Male patients aged 60 to 64 with 232,000 identified patients, were the most common group to receive prescriptions for drugs used in diabetes in 2021/22. The next most common groups were male patients aged 70 to 74 and then male patients 65 to 69.

They also showed there has been an increase in patients receiving these drugs overall and those in deprived areas were most affected.

More key findings included that antidiabetic drugs were the most prescribed drugs used in treating diabetes in England over the last year with 45.3 million items at a cost of £746 million. The costs of antidiabetic drugs have increased by 76.1% since 2015/16 from £423 million.

In all, there were 3.20 million identified patients that were prescribed drugs used in diabetes in England in 2021/22. This was a 4.95% increase from 3.05 million identified patients in 2020/21, and an 18.2% increase from 2.70 million in 2015/16.

This publication aims to describe the prescribing of medicines and appliances used for the treatment of diabetes in a primary care setting in England that are dispensed in the community. This does not include data on medicines used in secondary care, prisons, or issued by a private prescriber. For example, people with type 2 diabetes who may be treating their diabetes by diet alone, are therefore not included in the report figures.  

Read the report at Prescribing for Diabetes - England - 2015/16 to 2021/22 
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