Background: The incidence and prevalence of type 2 diabetes continue to grow in the United States and worldwide, along with the growing prevalence of obesity. Patients with type 2 diabetes are at greater risk for comorbid cardiovascular (CV) disease (CVD), which dramatically affects overall healthcare costs.
Objectives: To review the impact of glycemic control and medication adherence on morbidity, mortality, and healthcare costs of patients with type 2 diabetes, and to highlight the need for new drug therapies to improve outcomes in this patient population.
Methods: This comprehensive literature search was conducted for the period between 2000 and 2013, using MEDLINE, to identify published articles that report the associations between glycemic control, medication adherence, CV morbidity and mortality, and healthcare utilization and costs. Search terms included "type 2 diabetes," "adherence," "compliance," "nonadherence," "drug therapy," "resource use," "cost," and "cost-effectiveness."
Discussion: Despite improvements in the management of CV risk factors in patients with type 2 diabetes, outcomes remain poor. The costs associated with the management of type 2 diabetes are increasing dramatically as the prevalence of the disease increases. Medication adherence to long-term drug therapy remains poor in patients with type 2 diabetes and contributes to poor glycemic control in this patient population, increased healthcare resource utilization and increased costs, as well as increased rates of comorbid CVD and mortality. Furthermore, poor adherence to established evidence-based guidelines for type 2 diabetes, including underdiagnosis and undertreatment, contributes to poor outcomes. New approaches to the treatment of patients with type 2 diabetes currently in development have the potential to improve medication adherence and consequently glycemic control, which in turn will help to reduce associated costs and healthcare utilization.
Conclusions: As the prevalence of type 2 diabetes and its associated comorbidities grows, healthcare costs will continue to increase, indicating a need for better approaches to achieve glycemic control and manage comorbid conditions. Drug therapies are needed that enhance patient adherence and persistence levels far above levels reported with currently available drugs. Improvements in adherence to treatment guidelines and greater rates of lifestyle modifications also are needed. A serious unmet need exists for greatly improved patient outcomes, more effective and more tolerable drugs, as well as marked improvements in adherence to treatment guidelines and drug therapy to positively impact healthcare costs and resource use.