Patients on newer diabetes drugs are more compliant

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted April 10, 2006

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Diabetics who were prescribed newer medications were more likely to take these drugs as instructed than patients who were prescribed drugs that have been on the market for several decades, according to research published in the March Current Medical Research and Opinion.

The newer drugs can be 10 times more expensive than older ones, researchers said. But they found that the extra cost was balanced by the expense cut in other aspects of health care. Patients on newer drugs also had a slightly lower risk of hospitalization because of diabetes-related complications.

Researchers analyzed records from more than 3,000 patients in the North Carolina Medicaid program who took thiazolidinediones (TZDs) or either metformin or a sulfonylurea to control their diabetes. TZDs (pioglitazone and rosiglitazone) were approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the 1990s, while metformin and the sulfonylureas have been on the market for 50 years.

Patients who took a TZD spent an average of $76 to $150 less per month on total costs, including the price of medications, than did those taking the cheaper drugs. "Taking a TZD as instructed was the strongest predictor of a reduced risk of hospitalization and decreased health care costs in this group of patients," said lead author Rajesh Balkrishnan, PhD, Merrell Dow Professor of Pharmacy at Ohio State University in Columbus.

"We're not sure why that was so," Dr. Balkrishnan said. "It could be that the TZD helped get symptoms under control faster."

Funding for the study was provided by Takeda Pharmaceuticals which makes Actos (pioglitazone), a TZD.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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