Spending on Diabetes Drugs on the Rise
Study Shows Expenditures Are Going Up Due to Greater Use of Newer Drugs
New Diabetes Cases on the Rise continued...
Newly released figures from the CDC bear this out. Among the highlights of the report:
- In 2007, almost 18 million Americans had been diagnosed with diabetes, up from 11 million in 2000.
- Another 5.7 million people had diabetes, but had not been diagnosed.
- Another 57 million American adults had prediabetes.
Alexander and senior author Randall Stafford, MD, PhD, of the Stanford Prevention Research Center, analyzed data from two national prescription drug databases to come up with their drug cost estimates.
They found that the estimated number of visits to a doctor for diabetes treatment increased from 25 million in 1994 to 36 million in 2007.
During the same period:
- The percentage of patients treated with only one drug declined by almost half, from 82% to 47% of doctor visits.
- Insulin prescriptions decreased from 38% to 28% during the period.
- Prescriptions written for older sulfonylurea drugs declined from 67% to 34%.
Between 2001 and 2007, the average diabetes drug prescription cost rose from $56 to $76, mostly due to the increasing use of newly available drugs like Januvia and Byetta, the researchers note.
"It is important to recognize how expensive treatment for diabetes has become," Stafford says. "The near-doubling of diabetes [drug] costs may partly reflect better care, but we need to step back and examine the value of newer and more costly medications that may be overused."
Merck issued a statement in response to the study, noting that the company is committed to the development of new diabetes drugs.
"Not all diabetes treatments work for every patient and it is important to research and bring new treatment options to market to help patients to control their blood sugar levels," says Amy Rose, Merck director of media relations.
Calls to Amylin Pharmaceuticals were not returned in time for publication.