March 6, 2023 — More than 80 percent of American adults with type 2 diabetes meet the criteria for using new treatment drugs, such as semaglutide, marketed as Ozempic, according to a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
However, only about 1 in 10 of those who meet the criteria have used the drugs in recent years, according to the study. Additionally, the high prices of some drugs mean that they may put them out of reach as a first drug treatment for these patients. Most people with type 2 diabetes are prescribed metformin first, but other drugs are usually added, but some of the newer drugs are now recommended as first-line treatment for some.
“It is essential that we continue to study the best ways to manage type 2 diabetes (including medications and lifestyle changes), but it is also important to examine the extent to which these methods are available to people. people,” says lead author Shichao Tang, PhD, a research scientist in the Diabetes Translation Division at the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention.
“This includes finding how many people are using certain tools or drugs and how many people are eligible for them, which was the goal of this study,” Tang says.
A 2022 report from the American Diabetes Association and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes recommended the use of certain medications, such as Ozempic, which is given as a weekly injection, along with others similar drugs available as daily injections and oral tablets, for patients. with type 2 diabetes.
Indeed, in addition to lowering blood sugar, these new drugs have been shown to reduce the risk of complications of diabetes, such as heart disease and kidney disease, and they also cause weight loss, compared to older drugs. .
The researchers estimated that, of the 22.4 million American adults with diagnosed type 2 diabetes, about 82.3 percent would meet the recommended criteria for using drugs from these two new classes. About 94.5% of Medicare Type 2 beneficiaries would also be advised to use them.
However, only 3.7% of those who met the criteria used them during the study period and only 5.3% of those eligible for oral tablets used them.
About 9.1% were using one or the other before the most recent 2022 guidelines, which opened up the drugs as first-line treatment for patients with type 2 diabetes.
Based on the retail prices shown on a US based websitea 30-day supply of an oral tablet can cost around $550 to $600 per month, while common injected drugs can cost a few hundred dollars for a daily injection or nearly $1,000 for a version given weekly.
Previous studies suggest that both types of drugs could be cost-effective as second-line treatments, the authors note. However, current costs would need to drop by 70% for them to be cost-effective as first-line treatments.
Further studies are needed to understand whether new treatments are cost-effective for certain patient subgroups as first-line drugs.