Diabetics Taking More Pills, Using Less Insulin

September 20, 2010

The proportion of Americans who took oral medications to treat their diabetes rose to 77 percent, while those taking insulin fell to 24 percent.

The proportion of Americans reporting treatment for diabetes who took oral medications to treat their condition increased from 60 percent in 1997 to 77 percent in 2007 — a 28 percent increase – according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

During the same period, the proportion taking insulin to control their diabetes fell from 38 percent to 24 percent.

The federal agency’s analysis also revealed a shift in the three most commonly prescribed oral medications between 1997 and 2007. The proportion of Americans using sulfonylureas — which stimulate the pancreas to produce more insulin – declined from 1997 to 2007. The proportions using biguanides – which reduces the liver’s excess glucose production – and thiazolidinediones – which increases insulin sensitivity – rose during the period.

Specifically the proportions of people who were treated for diabetes who used the three most commonly prescribed oral medications were as follows:

  • Sulfonylureas declined from 51 percent to 40 percent.
  • Biguanides increased from 21 percent to 55 percent.
  • Thiazolidinediones increased from 5 percent to 25 percent.

Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality