Authors: Xie L, Zhou S, Pinsky BW, Buysman EK, Baser O.

Background: Diabetes accounts for almost 15% of all direct healthcare expenditures. Managed care organizations try to reduce costs and improve patient outcomes. Increasing patient persistence with antidiabetes treatment could help achieve these goals.

Subjects and methods: A retrospective study was conducted using the Optum Research Database (Optum, Eden Prairie, MN) to analyze clinical and economic outcomes associated with initiation of insulin glargine via a disposable pen (GLA-P) or vial and syringe (GLA-V) among adult, insulin-naive patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Propensity-matched patient cohorts were assessed for persistence with insulin therapy, glycated hemoglobin (A1C), hypoglycemic events (based on diagnosis codes), and healthcare costs (total paid amount of adjudicated claims) after follow-up at 1 year.

Results: In 1,308 matched patients, persistence was significantly higher (P=0.011) and longer (P=0.001) with GLA-P. Follow-up A1C values were significantly lower (P=0.038), and decreases in A1C from baseline significantly larger (P=0.043), in GLA-P than in GLA-V. Significantly fewer hypoglycemic events (P=0.042) were experienced, and a lower rate of diabetes-related inpatient admissions (P=0.008) was reported in GLA-P than GLA-V. Despite higher study drug costs with GLA-P than GLA-V, all-cause and diabetes-related healthcare costs were similar.

Conclusions: In insulin-naive patients with T2DM, initiation of insulin glargine using the disposable pen rather than the vial and syringe is associated with higher persistence, better A1C control, and lower rates of hypoglycemia. The higher study drug costs associated with pen use do not increase total all-cause or diabetes-related healthcare costs. This may help treatment selection for patients with T2DM in a managed care setting.

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