A new study shows that a majority of people taking drugs to treat type 2 diabetes stop taking their medications within six months, while almost all of them stop taking them within a year.
Research presented at the American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions in Chicago earlier this year showed that the rate of drug discontinuation among type 2 diabetes patients was 89 percent for those taking a GLP-1 agonist to lower blood sugar levels, 82 percent for those who took a DPP-4 inhibitor to stimulate the release of insulin by the pancreas, and 84 percent for those taking other diabetes medications.
The study was conducted by Carol E. Koro, Ph.D., who along with colleagues looked at 134,696 type 2 diabetes patients placed on a GLP-1 agonist, 202,269 who were taking a DPP-4 inhibitor, and 1,014,630 who were prescribed another diabetes drug. All patients were commercially insured.
Koro, an epidemiologist at GlaxoSmithKline in Research Triangle Park, N.C., based her research on data from the Truven Health Analytics MarketScan database between 2005 and 2011, and tracked refill rate patterns to determine how much of their medications patients were taking.
According to Koro, those who were part of the GLP-1 agonist study and ceased taking the medication was more likely to be women, more likely to be obese, and more likely to experience microvascular complications, making the noncompliance more troubling.
“These results demonstrate the need for improved persistence with GLP-1 agonist treatment,” Koro said, adding that estimates suggest that improving compliance with diabetes drug protocol could prevent 700,000 emergency room visits and 341,000 hospitalizations each year, saving $4.7 billion in health care costs.
The study was funded by the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline.