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Comparing Medications for Adults With Type 2 Diabetes

Slide: 6 of 35

Background: Treatment

In 1995, the only drugs for treating type 2 diabetes were sulfonylureas and insulin. Since then, many new pharmacotherapy options have become available. At present, there are 11 classes of diabetes medications: biguanides (i.e., metformin); thiazolidinediones; sulfonylureas; dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors; meglitinides;  glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists; an amylin analogue, bromocriptine; alpha-glucosidase inhibitors; colesevalam (a bile-acid sequestrant); and insulins. The newer agents are more costly than the older medications, and some are only approved as adjunctive therapies. In addition to having an increased number of  medication choices, patients with type 2 diabetes often need to take more than one type of diabetes medication. In 2005–2006, 35 percent of all patients with diabetes  were taking two classes of antidiabetes medications, and 14 percent were taking three or more classes, as compared to only 6 percent taking three or more classes in 1999–2000. With the increasing number of available medication choices for diabetes, patients are being managed with a greater number of classes of medications in combination. In 2005 to 2006, 35.3 percent of all patients with diabetes were taking two classes of anti-diabetes medications and 14.2 percent were taking three or more classes, compared to only 5.6 percent percent taking three or more classes in 1999 to 2000.