Author(s): Nichols GA, Koo YH, Shah SN
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Patients and providers may be reluctant to escalate to insulin therapy despite inadequate glycemic control. OBJECTIVES: To determine the proportion of patients attaining and maintaining glycemic targets after initiating sulfonylurea and metformin oral combination therapy (SU/MET); to assess insulin initiation among patients failing SU/MET; and to estimate the glycemic burden incurred, stratified by whether HbA(1c) goal was attained and maintained. DESIGN: Longitudinal observational cohort study. SUBJECTS: Type 2 diabetes patients, 3,891, who newly initiated SU/MET between 1 January 1996 and 31 December 2000. MEASUREMENTS: Subjects were followed until insulin was added, health plan disenrollment, or until 31 December 2005. We calculated the number of months subjects continued SU/MET therapy alone, in total, and during periods of inadequate glycemic control; the A1C reached during those time periods; and total glycemic burden, defined as the estimated cumulative monthly difference between measured A1C and 8\%. RESULTS: During a mean follow-up of 54.6 +/- 28.6 months, 41.9\% of the subjects added insulin, and 11.8\% received maximal doses of both oral agents. Over half of SU/MET patients attained but failed to maintain A1C of 8\%, yet continued SU/MET therapy for an average of nearly 3 years, sustaining glycemic burden equivalent to nearly 32 months of A1C levels of 9\%. Another 18\% of patients never attained the 8\% goal with SU/MET, yet continued that therapy for an average of 30 months, reaching mean A1C levels of 10\%. CONCLUSIONS: Despite inadequate glycemic control, a minority of patients added insulin or maximized oral agent doses, thus, incurring substantial glycemic burden on SU/MET. Additional studies are needed to examine the benefits of rapid titration to maximum doses and earlier initiation of insulin therapy.
This article was published in J Gen Intern Med
and referenced in Journal of Diabetes & Metabolism