To explore temporal trends in antidiabetes drug (ADD) prescribing and intensification patterns, along with glycemic levels and comorbidities, and possible benefits of novel ADDs in delaying the need for insulin initiation in patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Patients with type 2 diabetes aged 18–80 years, who initiated any ADD, were selected (n = 1,023,340) from the U.S. Centricity Electronic Medical Records. Those who initiated second-line ADD after first-line metformin were identified (subcohort 1, n = 357,482); the third-line therapy choices were further explored.
From 2005 to 2016, first-line use increased for metformin (60–77%) and decreased for sulfonylureas (20–8%). During a mean follow-up of 3.4 years post metformin, 48% initiated a second ADD at a mean HbA1c of 8.4%. In subcohort 1, although sulfonylurea usage as second-line treatment decreased (60–46%), it remained the most popular second ADD choice. Use increased for insulin (7–17%) and dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors (DPP-4i) (0.4–21%). The rates of intensification with insulin and sulfonylureas did not decline over the last 10 years. The restricted mean time to insulin initiation was marginally longer in second-line DPP-4i (7.1 years) and in the glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonist group (6.6 years) compared with sulfonylurea (6.3 years, P < 0.05).
Most patients initiate second-line therapy at elevated HbA1c levels, with highly heterogeneous clinical characteristics across ADD classes. Despite the introduction of newer therapies, sulfonylureas remained the most popular second-line agent, and the rates of intensification with sulfonylureas and insulin remained consistent over time. The incretin-based therapies were associated with a small delay in the need for therapy intensification compared with sulfonylureas.