One-third of patients do not receive first-line drugs for diabetes

Approximately one-third of patients starting oral medication to treat diabetes did not receive the clinically recommended initial therapy with the drug metformin. That's according to a study published in The American Journal of Medicine.

The study by Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and Harvard University followed more than 250,000 patients, aged 18 to 100 years. All patients were newly initiated on oral hypoglycemic therapy over the course of the three-year study period.

The subgroup that did not receive metformin therapy constituted 35 percent of the study participants but comprised 66.3 percent of the total expenditures for hypoglycemic drugs in the entire cohort, according to a news article in Drug Topics.

Medicare patients less likely to start treatment

Researchers found that young patients, women, and patients receiving drug benefits through Medicare were least likely to start their diabetes treatment using metformin.

There are six classes of oral medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat type 2 diabetes. All are known to be effective at lowering blood sugar, but clinical guidelines recommend metformin as the first-line drug for newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes.

During the study period, the proportion of patients initially treated with metformin increased from 51 percent to 65 percent. Prescriptions for sulfonylureas, the second most commonly used diabetes drug, decreased from 26 percent to 18 percent. The use of thiazolidinediones decreased significantly from 20.1 percent to 8.3 percent. Finally, prescriptions for dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors increased from 0.4 percent to 7.3 percent.

Implications for health care spending

These usage patterns have significant implications for health care spending costs. The study found that patients and insurers spent a combined $677 over a six-month period for patients initiated on alpha-glucosidase inhibitis, thiazolidinediones, meglitinides, or dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors.

This compares to $116 for patients initiated on metformin and $118 for patients initiated on a sulfonylurea, at a cost difference of about $1120 annually per patient.

Diabetes and pre-diabetes cost the US economy $218 billion in 2007, according to a study by The Lewin Group. That same study projected that those costs will increase to $336 billion by 2034.

Sources: The American Journal of Medicine, Drug Topics

Get a Free Diabetes Meal Plan

Get a free 7-Day Diabetes Meal Plan from Constance Brown-Riggs who is a Registered Dietitian-Certified Diabetes Educator and who is also a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Just enter in your email below to download your free Diabetes Meal Plan.

By clicking Submit, you agree to send your info to BattleDiabetes.com who, in addition to 3rd party partners, may contact you with updates, products and information and we agree to use it according to our privacy policy and terms and conditions.

More Articles

More Articles

Scientists have discovered that a single gene forms a common link between type 2 diabetes and...

Natural supplements like cinnamon extract and apple cider vinegar could hold the key to lowering blood sugar levels, according to a recent...

Natural supplements like cinnamon extract and apple cider vinegar could hold the key to lowering blood sugar levels, according to a recent...

Could a person's risk for type 2 diabetes be written in their genes?

According to a study recently published in ...

Women who frequently shift around their sleeping hours could have worse metabolic health outcomes than their peers who stick with a...

The presence of the hormone leptin may hinder prenatal development, which could explain the origin of type 2 diabetes, according to...

An analysis of fossilized Native American feces shows that our ancestors ate up to sixteen times the fiber that we do today, but our...

Managing diabetes is hugely challenging for people of any age, but a new study suggests that young people may suffer all the more....

Disruptions to the gut’s ecosystem could be a future symptom facing young children who take antibiotics, which makes them more susceptible...

Breastfeeding a newborn holds many benefits for mommy and baby; it reduces the baby's risk for colds and viruses, it helps his bones (and yours)...

Fans of the Dexcom G5 Mobile have something to smile about.

At yesterday's hearing with the U.S. Food and Drug...

If you start your day with a cup of tea and end it with a glass of red wine, your blood sugar may thank you.

At least that...

As medical experts continue to debate whether or not "healthy obesity" can even exist, one new study suggests that risk for heart disease...

For years, type 1 diabetics have been anxiously waiting for that medical marvel that can stop the constant injections: the artificial...

“Low-fat” has been the battle cry of the health-conscious for over ‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌...