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What are you taking?

September 4, 2012 in News

Due to the rapid increase in the rate of diabetes in the United States, there has been a lot of healthcare research focused on finding the best way to provide quality care in the most cost-efficient manner possible.

One recent study looked at the prescriptions type 2 diabetes patients are receiving when they first start taking an oral medication for glucose management. There are currently six basic classes of these medications, all of which help lower blood glucose. Each of these has a different set of benefits, and the costs among the choices can vary a great deal.

Certain medications are considered the recommended “first line” medications for type 2 diabetes – they are specifically recommended in the medical literature as the best choices for those starting to take medication for glucose management. Metformin or a sulfonylurea are two of these “first line” medicines. These recommendations are made based on extensive research, and how the specific benefits of the drug align with the typical concerns of a patient needing oral glucose management medication for the first time.

The researchers found that in the 254,973 cases they studied, 35 percent of the patients did not receive the recommended first line drug when starting oral diabetes treatment. Additionally, cost for medications for this 35 percent were more expensive, making up 66.3 percent of the total expenditures for the entire study population when both insurer and patient spending were combined. Those patients who were prescribed first line medications for glucose management had combined out-of-pocket and insurer expenses that averaged $1120 less than the expenses for those who were prescribed other medications for glucose management.

Niteesh K. Choudry, MD, PhD, one of the study’s authors, stated that initiatives to encourage adherence to prescriptions recommended in treatment guidelines for type 2 diabetes whenever possible could result in big savings for patients, insurance providers, and the whole healthcare system.

If you haven’t asked your doctor about the medications you are currently taking, now might be a good time to add that discussion to your list <<link to previsit form?>> If you’re not sure why you’ve been prescribed one medicine instead of another, or if you’re concerned about the cost of your medications, ask!

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