Early discontinuation and restart of insulin in the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus

Diabetes Ther. 2014 Jun;5(1):225-42. doi: 10.1007/s13300-014-0065-z. Epub 2014 Apr 30.


Introduction: Although the largest improvement in glycemic control occurs within the first 90 days of insulin therapy, little is known about early persistence on insulin therapy. This research aimed to identify predictors of early discontinuation and of subsequent restart of basal or mixture insulin among patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and to assess the economic cost associated with such behaviors over a 1-year period.

Methods: Truven's Health Analytics Commercial Claims and Encounters database was utilized for the study. Logistic regressions were used to examine factors associated with early discontinuation of insulin (basal or mixture) and, among patients who discontinued early, the factors associated with restarting. Cost regressions were estimated using generalized linear models with a gamma distribution and logistic link. Kaplan-Meier survival curves were used to examine time to discontinuation and time to restart among those who discontinued.

Results: Multivariate analyses revealed that patient characteristics, prior healthcare resource utilization, comorbid diagnoses, and type of initiated insulin were associated with early discontinuation of insulin and of restarting among patients who discontinued early. Acute care (hospitalization and emergency room) costs were 9.6% higher among patients who discontinued early (P < 0.001), although outpatient, drug, and total costs were significantly lower among individuals who discontinued early. Among the early discontinuation subgroup, restarting insulin was associated with higher costs. Specifically: 11.3% higher acute care costs (P < 0.001), 24.0% higher outpatient costs (P < 0.001), 80.2% higher drug costs (P < 0.001), and 30.3% higher total costs (P < 0.001), compared to patients who discontinued early but did not restart insulin therapy in the 1-year post-period.

Conclusion: Among patients with T2DM who were initiated on insulin therapy, early discontinuation of insulin and its subsequent restart were associated with significantly higher acute care costs, which may signal a more complex and challenging subgroup of patients who tend to be less engaged in outpatient care and may have poorer long-term outcomes.