Improving uptake of new diabetes medication can address nationwide health disparities

People living in socioeconomic disadvantaged areas or remote areas experience higher prevalence of diabetes and poorer health outcomes related to both diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

New research led by the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, and supported by Monash University, has investigated the potential impacts of socioeconomic disadvantage or remoteness may have on receiving different diabetic medicines. Researchers were exploring the dispensing of newer diabetic medications that are more effective and of which some have shown to be protective against cardiovascular and renal disease. These newer medications include glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist (GLP-1Ras), sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 inhibitors (SGLT2is) and dipeptidyl peptidase-inhibitors (DPP4is).


The nationwide study assessed over 1.2 million Australians with Type 2 Diabetes over the course of 2007 to 2015. Participants were sampled through the Australian National Diabetes Service Scheme and were linked to the Australian pharmaceutical claims database to help understand potential trends between the dispensing of diabetic medications and sociodemographic factors.

The authors found that people living in more disadvantaged areas were more likely to receive older diabetic medications (insulin, metformin, thiazolidinediones and sulfonylureas) when compared to individuals living in less disadvantaged areas.

The authors found that while the uptake of newer diabetic medications did increase over time, the speed at which they are adopted can be dependent on sociodemographic factors., it was found that the uptake of some newer medicines SGLT2is and DPP4is was lower in people living in disadvantaged areas, however, these differences dissipated within 2 years. This levelling out trend was not observed in the dispensing of GLP-1RA.

The authors also found that people living in regional areas were more likely to be prescribed newer diabetic medicines compared to those in major cities, whereas people living in remote areas were considerably less likely to receive certain new diabetic medicines, SGLT2is and DPP4is.

The researcher’s findings suggest that effective strategies that consider differences and trends in uptake of newer medicines could help to address health disparities observed in remote and disadvantaged areas of Australia.

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