Growing Diabetes Problem Signals Adherence Challenges

Could improving patient medication adherence help reduce risk of diabetes complications? Growing rates of the disease have pulled medication adherence into the spotlight:

About 19 million Americans have diabetes, and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) estimates the rate of increase for the disease at 7% to 8% annually. “I don’t know any other chronic disease that’s growing at 8% each year. That’s why we’re sounding the alarm,” says John Anderson, MD, president of medicine and science for

the ADA.

Effective management of Type 2 diabetes—which includes between 90% and 95% of all diabetes cases—usually involves a multi-pronged approach that includes drug therapies and lifestyle changes. The challenge for primary care physicians (PCPs) is getting patients to adhere to the plan. A 2010 study in The New England Journal of Medicine found that between 33% and 48% of patients with diabetes did not meet targets for blood pressure, glycemic control, or low-density lipoprotein levels, three of the main symptoms of the disease.

“We know that if we can get people to exercise more and change their eating habits to lose a certain percentage of weight, we markedly reduce the rate at which pre-diabetic patients turn into full diabetes,” says Anderson.

Patients with Type 2 diabetes do not produce enough insulin to convert blood sugars (glucose) into energy for the body, causing glucose levels build up in the body. If left untreated, high glucose levels can lead to complications such as blindness, loss of limbs, kidney failure, and neuropathy. The disease can also exacerbate the effects of conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. The ADA puts the annual cost of all forms of the disease at about $245 billion, including $176 billion in direct medical costs and $69 billion in reduced productivity.

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Source: Medical Economics