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Study suggests “alarming” diabetes med discontinuation



– Most patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus stop taking their medication within a year, and nearly one-third stop within the first 3 months, a retrospective analysis of claims data for more than 324,000 patients suggests.


The findings in this population of commercially insured adults are startling and highlight a need for interventions to improve treatment persistence, according to Lisa Latts, MD, deputy chief health officer for IBM Watson Health in Cambridge, Mass.

Dr. Latts and her colleagues reviewed medication claims data for 324,136 patients with at least one diagnosis for type 2 diabetes mellitus and one outpatient pharmacy claim for a type 2 diabetes medication after at least 12 prior months without such a claim.

Of those patients, 58% discontinued treatment within 12 months, 31% discontinued within the first 3 months, and 44% discontinued within 6 months, Dr. Latts reported at the annual scientific sessions of the American Diabetes Association.

“Less than half of those patients who discontinued had a restart within the following year. So what we’re seeing here is a huge percentage of individuals who had a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, were prescribed a medication, and then did not continue the medication,” she said.

Of those who discontinued within the 12-month follow-up, 27% restarted therapy within 60 days and 39% restarted therapy anytime during the 12-month follow-up (mean treatment gap, 107 days). Of those who discontinued by 3 months, 45% restarted within a year (mean treatment gap, 112 days), and of those who discontinued by 6 months, 44% restarted within a year (mean treatment gap, 119 days).

Patients included in the review, which was a collaborative effort of IBM Watson Health and the ADA, had at least 12 months of continuous enrollment in the Truven Health MarketScan Commercial and Medicare Supplemental Databases between 2013 and 2017, before and after the therapy initiation date.

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