Monash research provides new insights into treatment dynamics in diabetes

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14 December 2021

New research from Monash University’s Centre for Medicine Use and Safety (CMUS) has found that nearly one quarter of Australians who initiate common diabetes medications switch or receive additional medications during the first year.

The study, published today in Frontiers in Pharmacology, followed more than 109,000 people aged 18-99 years who initiated metformin or a sulfonylurea medication in Australia between July 2013 and April 2015. The study involved linking data from the Australian National Diabetes Service Scheme (NDSS) and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

Treatment switching occurred in 4% of people who initiated metformin and 13% of those who initiated a sulfonylurea. Treatment addition occurred in 18% of people who initiated metformin and in 28% who initiated sulfonylureas, with a median time to addition 104 days for metformin and 82 days for sulfonylureas.

Lead author and CMUS Research Fellow Dr Stephen Wood said, “our study provides new insights into how many people switch and receive additional treatments, most likely because they do not achieve adequate glycaemic control or because of experiencing adverse events.”

Senior author Dr Jenni Ilomaki said, “Longer time between diabetes diagnosis and medication initiation was associated with shorter time to treatment addition. Interestingly, women who initiated metformin were less likely to receive treatment additions but more likely to switch than men.”

The study was conducted in collaboration with the Clinical Diabetes and Epidemiology Group, Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute and the findings are published in Frontiers in Pharmacology.

Dr Wood and Dr Ilomaki are continuing to conduct international research into diabetes treatments and outcomes in partnership with PharmAlliance partners University College London, University of North Carolina and other members of the Neurological and Mental Health Global Epidemiology Network (NeuroGEN).

CMUS is part of the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and specialises in multidisciplinary research into preventive, acute and chronic care, optimising medication management and patient safety.