Drug adherence, healthcare use, medical costs, and heart failure rates were better among patients with type 2 diabetes who were newly prescribed a sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitor than a glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist in a real-world, observational study.
Composite cardiovascular (CV) outcomes were similar between the two drug classes.
Insiya Poonawalla, PhD, a researcher at Humana Healthcare Research, Flower Mound, Texas, reported the study results in an oral presentation on June 12 at the virtual American Diabetes Association (ADA) 80th Scientific Sessions.
The investigators matched more than 10,000 patients with type 2 diabetes — half initiated on an SGLT2 inhibitor and half initiated on a GLP-1 agonist — from the Humana database of insurance claims data.
“These findings suggest potential benefits” of SGLT2 inhibitors, “particularly where risk related to heart failure is an important consideration,” Poonawalla said, but as always, any benefits need to be weighed against any risks.
And “while this study provides a pretty complete and current picture of claims until 2018,” it has limitations inherent to observational data (such as possible errors or omissions in the claims data), she conceded.
Mikhail Kosiborod, MD, invited to comment on the research, said this preliminary study was likely too short and small to definitively demonstrate differences in composite CV outcomes between the two drug classes, but he noted that the overall findings are not unexpected.
And often, the particular CV risk profile of an individual patient will point to one or the other of these drug classes as a best fit, he noted.
Too soon to alter clinical practice
Kosiborod, from Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, Kansas City, Missouri, said he nevertheless feels “it would be a bit premature to use these findings as a guide to change clinical practice.”
“The study is relatively small in scope and likely underpowered to examine CV outcomes,” he said in an email interview.
Larger population-based studies and ideally head-to-head randomized controlled trials of various type 2 diabetes agents could compare these two drug classes more definitively, he asserted.
In the meantime, safety profiles of both medication classes “have been well established — in tens of thousands of patients in clinical trials and millions of patients prescribed these therapies in clinical practice,” he noted.
In general, the drugs in both classes are well-tolerated and safe for most patients with type 2 diabetes when used appropriately.
“Certainly, patients with type 2 diabetes and established CV disease (or at high risk for CV complications) are ideal candidates for either an SGLT2 inhibitor or a GLP-1 receptor agonist,” Kosiborod said.
“Given the data we have from outcome trials, an SGLT2 inhibitor would be a better initial strategy in a patient with type 2 diabetes and heart failure (especially heart failure with reduced ejection fraction) and/or diabetic kidney disease,” he continued.
On the other hand, “a GLP-1 receptor agonist may be a better initial strategy in a type 2 diabetes patient with (or at very high risk for) atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), especially if there is concomitant obesity contributing to the disease process.”