Treatment Trends for Type 2 Diabetes

The burden of diabetes is expected to increase over the next few decades in the United States, with about one in three American adults projected to be at risk for developing the disease by 2050. Diabetes has also been linked to a considerable economic burden, with annual direct medical expenditures for treating and managing the disease totaling nearly $250 billion in 2012. Most of the medical expenditures for diabetes are attributable to hospitalizations and physician services, but the costs of prescription therapies are also significant. With the high prevalence and burden of diabetes, the disease has become a ripe target for pharmaceutical development. “During the past decade, several important changes in the diabetes marketplace have occurred,” explains G. Caleb Alexander, MD, FACP. For example, in the early 2000s, glitazones were rapidly adopted for use, but subsequent evidence suggested that these agents were associated with cardiovascular risks. In turn, this led to substantial declines in the use of glitazones during the latter half of the decade.  In addition, new long-acting insulins and several new classes of therapies have emerged to treat type 2 diabetes, including injectable incretin mimetics such as glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) agonists, dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors, and sodium glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT-2) inhibitors. The costs of these medications can be high, but clinicians appear to be interested in using them because of their novel mechanisms of action and potential promise in helping to improve glycemic control among those with type 2 diabetes.   Examining Recent Patterns Over the past 2 decades, clinical investigations have examined changes in the treatment of diabetes. These analyses identified several important trends,...