Newer long-acting insulin prescriptions for patients with type 2 diabetes: prevalence and practice variation in a retrospective cohort study

Br J Gen Pract. 2022 May 26;72(719):e430-e436. doi: 10.3399/BJGP.2021.0581. Print 2022 Jun.


Background: Little is known about prescription patterns of expensive non-recommended newer long-acting insulins (glargine 300 U/mL and degludec) for patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).

Aim: To identify practice variation in, and practice- and patient-related characteristics associated with, the prescription of newer long-acting insulins to patients with T2DM in primary care.

Design and setting: A retrospective cohort study in Dutch general practices (Nivel Primary Care Database).

Method: A first prescription for intermediate or long-acting insulins in 2018 was identified in patients aged ≥40 years using other T2DM drugs. Per practice, the median percentage and interquartile range (IQR) of patients with newer insulin prescriptions were calculated. Multilevel logistic regression models were constructed to calculate intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) and quantify the association of patient and practice characteristics with prescriptions for newer insulins (odds ratios [ORs] and 95% confidence intervals [CIs]).

Results: In total, 7757 patients with prescriptions for intermediate or long-acting insulins from 282 general practices were identified. A median percentage of 21.2% (IQR 12.5-36.4%) of all patients prescribed intermediate or long-acting insulins per practice received a prescription for newer insulins. After multilevel modelling, the ICC decreased from 20% to 19%. Female sex (OR 0.77, 95% CI = 0.69 to 0.87), age ≥86 years compared with 40-55 years (OR 0.22, 95% CI = 0.15 to 0.34), prescriptions for metformin (OR 0.66, 95% CI = 0.53 to 0.82), sulfonylurea (OR 0.58, 95% CI = 0.51 to 0.66), or other newer T2DM drugs (OR 3.10, 95% CI = 2.63 to 3.66), and dispensing practices (OR 1.78, 95% CI = 1.03 to 3.10) were associated with the prescription of newer insulins.

Conclusion: The inter-practice variation in the prescription of newer insulins is large and could only be partially explained by patient- and practice-related differences. This indicates substantial opportunities for improvement.

Keywords: diabetes mellitus; insulin; practice variation; primary health care.

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Insulin / therapeutic use
  • Insulin, Long-Acting / therapeutic use
  • Insulins*
  • Prescriptions
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin
  • Insulin, Long-Acting
  • Insulins