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Human insulin as effective as costlier insulin analogs in diabetes

Human insulin as effective as costlier insulin analogs in diabetes
Findings of the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that the use of basal insulin analogs in usual practice settings may not be associated with clinical advantages for these outcomes.
Like human insulin, long-acting insulin analogs can be prescribed as daily or twice-daily injections to help provide predictable levels of blood sugar throughout the day. In clinical trials, insulin analogs modestly reduced the risk of nocturnal hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar during sleep, compared with human insulin.
Treatment of T2D typically begins with metformin and lifestyle modifications. However. a large percentage of diabetes patients eventually require additional insulin injections to control their blood sugar.
“We compared the newer and older types of insulin in a large and diverse population of Kaiser Permanente type 2 diabetes patients who were newly prescribed insulin,” said Dr. Lipska. “The study was conducted under real-world conditions with uniquely detailed data about possible confounding factors and long-term outcomes.”

“We found that for patients with T2D in usual practice, the use of the more expensive insulin analogs did not appear to result in better safety — at least as defined by hospital or emergency visits for hypoglycemia — or better blood sugar control compared with NPH insulin,” Lipska added. “This suggests that many people with type 2 diabetes should consider starting with NPH insulin, instead of insulin analogs, especially if cost is an issue for them.”

For the study, the researchers followed the new insulin users with type 2 diabetes for an average of 1.7 years. During this time, they examined emergency department visits or hospitalizations related to severe hypoglycemia, as well as changes in their blood sugar (hemoglobin A1c) control.
They found that insulin analogs were not associated with a reduced risk of emergency department visits or hospital admissions for severe hypoglycemia, nor did they control hemoglobin A1c levels better than NPH insulin.

“For decades, people initiating insulin treatment were prescribed human insulin,” said Andrew J. Karter, senior research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research. “Then in the 2000s, a new generation of long-acting insulin analogs emerged that were designed to mimic human insulin.”

“The problem is that insulin analogs are much more expensive than human NPH insulin,” said Lipska. A vial of insulin analog now costs about $200 to $300, while a vial of NPH insulin costs just $25. Dr. Karter’s research has shown that high out-of-pocket cost of medications, especially at the time of initiation, are linked to poorer adherence, which directly affects outcomes for diabetes patients.”

“The cost differential between analog and NPH insulins is huge, up to a 10-fold difference,” Karter said. “Some people with type 2 diabetes may find the potential benefits of insulin analogs worth the additional cost. But we found no population-level evidence to suggest that the extra expenditure is warranted for most people with type 2 diabetes, particularly when the high cost could prevent some of them from getting the treatment they need or divert resources away from other, potentially beneficial clinical interventions.”

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Source: With inputs from JAMA

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    Murar Yeolekar July 3, 2018, 12:01 am

    Implications of the study by Lipska has enormous relevance in managing diabetes mellitus in limited resource settings. Because of the prolonged lifelong treatment of the chronic metabolic disease , cost can be a major consideration / impediment in compliance and eventual euglycemic control. Fine tuning with analogues may turn out to be an expensive proposition in many patients and the study by Lipska offers an assurance that is acceptable. Dr Murar Yeolekar. Mumbai.