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Use of Diabetes Oral Meds On the Rise

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, September 22, 2010

Between 1997 and 2007, an additional 8.7 million people in the U.S. were using oral medications to treat diabetes, an increase in the percentage of people with diabetes of from 59.9% to 77.3%.

That's according to a brief by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

"By contrast, the proportion using insulin dropped from 38.2% in 1997 to 24.4% in 2007," the report said.

The drug of treatment choice also changed within that decade, away from sulfonylureas.

While in 1997 the proportion of patients being treated with sulfonylureas was 51.2%, by 2007 use of that class of drugs declined to 40.2%, while the percentage of patients using two other categories went up. Biguanides use went up from 21.2% to 55.2% and thiazolidinediones use went from 4.7% to 24.6%.

The cost of treatment also nearly doubled in the 10-year period, from $500 average per person with diabetes in 1997-1998 to $944 in 2006-2007.

The brief also quantified the percentage of people with diabetes who have other comorbid conditions such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension or high cholesterol.  Those rates went from 13.1%, 46.1% and 15% in 1997 to 17.2%, 64.8% and 52.8% respectively.

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