DRUGS to treat diabetes are costing tens of millions of pounds in the North East.
With more patients being diagnosed and treated every year, the cost of the condition could soon pose a big problem for the region’s Primary Care Trusts (PCTs).
In England, 2.5million people have been diagnosed with diabetes.
That number is expected to reach 4.2million by 2025, and health officials have warned of the financial impact on the already-struggling NHS.
In the Sunderland Teaching PCT area in 2011 to 2012 there were 248,581 prescribed items to treat diabetes, up 10.2 per cent on the previous year.
The net ingredient cost for 2011/12 was £4,242,092.40.
Pam Lee, public health consultant for the trust – based at Sunderland Enterprise Park – said: “We have been involved in a range of work to proactively raise awareness of diabetes, its causes and symptoms with people across Sunderland to increase early diagnosis of the condition and improve the treatment of people with diabetes.
“We introduced the Insulin Passport last year, a patient information booklet and hand-held record that helps reduce the misuse of insulin, and aims to ensure that patients with diabetes receive the treatments they require.
“The Insulin Passport is one of a number of reasons why medicine usage has increased, helping bring about better health and cost effectiveness in the long term.”
Diabetes is a condition where the amount of glucose in the blood is too high, because the body cannot use it properly.
In Sunderland, 6.1 per cent of the adult population is diagnosed with diabetes.
County Durham PCT also saw a big increase in diabetes drugs prescribed over the last year.
There were 464,890 items dished out by doctors, which was a 8.1 per cent increase on last year, and cost £8,298,526.13.
A spokesman for NHS County Durham and Darlington said: “From April 2013, local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs)led by local GPs and other health professionals, will take over responsibility for the planning and purchasing of local health services for local populations.
“All of the CCGs in County Durham and Darlington focus on diabetes as a key priority.
“This includes looking at approaches to control the cost of prescribing medicines, the development of diabetes services closer to patients’ homes and the development of e-learning self management tools for patients.”
The data was revealed by the national Health and Social Care Information Centre.
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.
“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.”