Cost-effective strategies for the long-term management of diabetes mellitus
Mulpuri, Kedar Nath
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Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a significant public health problem that afflicted approximately 29.1 million Americans in 2012 (CDC, 2014). The estimated cost of diabetes in the United States in 2012 was $245 billion, including $176 billion in direct medical costs and $69 billion in reduced productivity (ADA, 2013a). To reach a diagnosis of DM, a clinician generally relies on fasting plasma glucose (FPG), the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), and/or the Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) test (ADA, 2013b). Current noninsulin antidiabetic medications include sulfonylureas, GLP-1 analogues, DPP-4 inhibitors, biguanides, thiazolidinediones, and SGLT2 inhibitors (Kaiser & Oetjen, 2014). Insulin therapies include basal (long-acting insulin analogues), biphasic (premixed insulin analogues), prandial (short-acting insulin analogues), and basal bolus (a combination of long-acting and short-acting insulin analogues) (Esposito et al., 2012). The aim of this study is to review the existing literature on the cost effectiveness of diabetes interventions to develop a standardized protocol for early type 2 diabetes care that can be delivered through primary care providers. The substantial cost effectiveness of preventative measures, including ad campaigns and outreach programs, has already been established (Mendis & Chestnov, 2013). Screening for impaired glucose tolerance early and implementing lifestyle and pharmacological changes at an early stage are also considered cost effective approaches for the long-term management of diabetes mellitus (Gillies et al., 2008). This study utilizes six cost effectiveness analyses on both clinical and non-clinical interventions to determine a standardized protocol for screening, diagnosing, and treating DM. Noninsulin antidiabetic drugs accounted for 78.4% of the 154.4 million prescriptions for antidiabetic drugs filled in 2012 (Hampp et al., 2014). Approximately half of the noninsulin antidiabetic drugs filled in 2012 was for metformin, whereas roughly a quarter of the same category was for sulfonylureas (Hampp et al., 2014). In decreasing order, long-acting human analog insulin and fast-acting human analog insulin were the most popular insulin variants in the insulin antidiabetic drug market (Hampp et al., 2014). Of the noninsulin antidiabetic drugs, the highest proportion of diabetic patients who achieved the HbA1C target of <7% were those taking sustained release exenatide (a GLP-1 analog) (63.2%) (Esposito et al., 2012). Of the insulin varieties, the highest proportion of diabetic patients who achieved the HbA1C target of <7% were those using basal bolus insulin (50.2%) (Esposito et al., 2012). While there are some concerns about the ability of diabetic patients with chronic kidney disease to clear metformin via renal excretion, extensive clinical experience supports its use in diabetic patients with mild to moderate renal impairment (Inzucchi et al., 2014). From the cost effectiveness studies, lifestyle modification (i.e., changes in diet and exercise) beginning at any age was determined to be a cost-effective approach in preventing and treating DM and may be cost saving for adults between the age of 25 to 44 (Herman et al., 2005). Screening for DM beginning at age 45 and repeating every three years if negative provides the best balance of effectiveness and cost effectiveness (Kahn et al., 2010). As a first-line clinical intervention, metformin was established to be cost-effective as well in treating DM (but less so compared to lifestyle modification) (Herman et al., 2005). Bariatric surgery for diabetics with a BMI greater than or equal to 35 kg/m2 has also been established as cost effective (Hoerger et al., 2010). Next, in considering the ideal frequency of clinical consultations, diabetics with a stable condition (assessed as HbA1c ≤7.5%, blood pressure ≤145 mmHg, and total cholesterol ≤201 mg/dL) can safely be seen by a primary care provider every six months compared to every three months with no noticeable decline in long-term health outcomes (Wermeling et al., 2014). For cases of T2D that cannot be simply controlled with metformin, sulfonylurea has shown that it is overall more cost-effective and effective as a second-line therapy when compared to DPP-4 inhibitors and GLP-1 analogs (Zhang et al., 2014). Cost effectiveness analysis of the long-acting analogue insulin detemir across different countries reveals substantially different cost effectiveness for the medication in terms of both nominal and purchasing power terms (Home et al., 2014). The results of these studies were parsed to establish a long-term clinical protocol for primary care providers in screening, diagnosing, and treating type 2 diabetes. Future studies should focus on integrating cost effectiveness and comparative effectiveness research in implementing even more nuanced clinical decisions through a structured protocol. The cost effectiveness of existing and new interventions--both clinical and non-clinical in nature--will also need to be continuously assessed to ensure that the measurements incorporate the most accurate set of assumptions on costs and effectiveness.