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Prescribing for Diabetes – England 2015/16 to 2020/21

Published 26 August 2021.


Diabetes features as one of the priorities for care and quality outcomes in the NHS Long Term Plan

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.

This is an experimental Official Statistics release.

Key findings

  • In 2020/21, there were 57.9 million drugs used in treating diabetes prescribed in England for a cost of £1.19 billion, 12.5% of the total spend on all prescription items prescribed in England. This was an increase from 2015/16 where 49.7 million diabetes items were prescribed in England for a cost of £958 million, representing 10.4% of the total spend on all prescriptions items.
  • Antidiabetic drugs were the most prescribed drugs used in treating diabetes in England in 2020/21 with 43.1 million items at a cost of £686 million. The costs of antidiabetic drugs have increased by 62% since 2015/16 from £423 million.
  • There were 3.05 million identified patients that were prescribed drugs used in diabetes in England in 2020/21. This was a 1.5% increase from 3 million identified patients in 2019/20, and a 12.7% increase from 2.70 million in 2015/16.
  • The median age of identified patients for drugs used in diabetes was 64 in 2020/21, this has remained consistent since 2015/16. The most common age group in 2020/21 was 70 to 74, this has increased from 2015/16 where the most common age group was 65 to 69.
  • Areas of greater deprivation have the highest number of identified patients being prescribed drugs used in treating diabetes in 2020/21, with the number of patients receiving prescribing in the most deprived areas of England being 264% of the least deprived areas.

Resource list

Prescribing for Diabetes England 2015/16 to 2020/21 - Statistical summary narrative (HTML)

Costs and items summary tables (Excel: 92KB)

Patient demographics summary tables (Excel: 91KB)

Background information and methodology note (PDF: 227KB)

User engagement strategy (PDF: 190KB)

Pre-release access list (PDF: 126KB)


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Responsible statistician: Matthew Wilson