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Cost of Diabetes Care Has Doubled
Date:10/27/2008

Newer, more expensive drugs, rising rates of blood sugar disease to blame, study finds

MONDAY, Oct. 27 (HealthDay News) -- The overall cost of drugs for type 2 diabetes almost doubled between 2001 and 2007, yet whether these newer drugs improve care and outcomes isn't known, a new study finds.

In that time period, total spending went from $6.7 billion to $12.5 billion, say researchers from the University of Chicago and Stanford University.

In 2002, diabetes accounted for more than 10 percent of U.S. health-care expenditures, and that number is expected to increase as the number of people with type 2 diabetes grows, the researchers noted.

"We found dramatic changes in the treatment patterns for diabetes during the past decade," said study author Dr. G. Caleb Alexander, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. "This includes a remarkable change in drugs, as well as significant increases in costs."

Whether these changes in diabetic care positively impact outcomes isn't known, Alexander said. "The jury is still out as to whether these changes are worth it," he said. "The million dollar question is: Are these changes going to lead to overall significant improvement in the outcomes that matter to patients and their doctors?"

The report was published in the Oct. 27 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The dramatic increase in cost is due to the high cost of commonly prescribed newer drugs. For example, sitagliptin (Januvia) costs $160 per prescription and exenatide (Byetta) costs $210 per prescription. That's eight to 11 times higher than older, generic drugs such as metformin, Alexander said.

These drugs are marketed as being more convenient and offering better control of blood sugar than the older medications. In addition, doctors are using these new drugs as an alternative to insulin, Alexander said. In fact, insulin use dropped from 38 perce
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