November 14, 2012

Costly Drugs not necessarily better for Diabetes Treatment


The JAMA Network published an article to demonstrate the cost-effective use of medications in the treatment of diabetes. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is the epitome of prudence and efficiency in the treatment of chronic disease. The outcome of this study proves that it is possible to manage diabetes feasibly and successfully.

The VA data was analyzed for over 1 million patients with diabetes. The objective of this study was to understand how the prescribing of high-cost medications varies across facilities.

Metformin is one the most commonly prescribed medication for Type 2 diabetes. It has a good safety record, clear benefits, and it is the most inexpensive drug. In the VA, drugs chosen to treat patients can differ based on side effects or effectiveness for each patient. Specifically, for this trial, very comparable patients throughout the VAs had different chances of receiving higher cost drugs.

The most cost-effective treatment for Type 2 diabetes is irrelevant when you consider the quality of care in the VA. The quality of care does not suffer compared to more costly drugs. The VA does very well on quality for diabetes and uses a lot of inexpensive medications.

A study published in 2010 compared prescription use and spending for the VA on lipid-lowering drugs and diabetes medications. A researcher in this study is one of the researchers in the current study. For diabetes medications, the average cost per patient annually was  $158.34 . The least expensive medications cost $123.34 and the most expensive medications cost $198.31. The results of the 2010 study found no relationship between prescription spending and quality of care.

If quality control is what you seek for diabetes treatment then quantity of dollars spent on your medication is immaterial. This study reflects the findings of the VA and is entirely applicable to every person with diabetes.

Visit Your Diabetes Health for more resources about health.