Aims: To estimate the prevalence of diabetes mellitus in France from 2000 to 2005, to monitor changes in its medical management and to determine the resultant costs to the French national healthcare system.
Methods: Using patients' data from the permanent sample of healthcare affiliates, we defined a treated diabetic patient as anyone who had been reimbursed for insulin or oral hypoglycaemic drugs at least twice within one calendar year.
Results: The prevalence of treated diabetic patients in 2005 in the French population covered by the general healthcare scheme was 3.6% (+/-0.1). The average annual increase between 2000 and 2005 was 5.7%, of which 0.7% can be attributed to population ageing. In 2005, the maximum prevalence of treated diabetic patients among those aged 70-79 years was 17.7% for men and 11.5% for women. Cardiovascular risk factors associated with diabetes were treated more often with drug therapy in 2005 than in 2000. In 2005, 73.8% of diabetic patients were given antihypertensive drugs and 54.9% received cholesterol-lowering agents. In 2005, the annual cost of treatment with antidiabetic drugs and treatment of cardiovascular risk factors was 760 euros per diabetic patient.
Conclusion: The number of treated diabetic patients greatly increased between 2000 and 2005. At the same time, their associated cardiovascular risk factors were more frequently managed by drug therapy. As a result, the total expenditures for the healthcare system for treating diabetes and its associated cardiovascular risk factors doubled in five years, amounting to 1.8 billion euros in 2005.