Keep taking the medicine, diabetes research warns

Brussels, Belgium, 28 September 1999: Analysis of over 13,000 patient records has revealed that an alarming number of individuals with type 2 diabetes stop taking their medication, as reported today in a new study presented at this year's congress of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD). The research also showed that individuals who stop taking oral anti-diabetic drugs (OADs) make more visits to hospital and have a higher risk of death than those who continue with their treatment. (1)

"We found that many patients do not continue taking their medication," said Tim Howard, President of Galt Associates, who undertook the research. "This has serious implications for their health and survival," he added.

Over 90% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. This condition tends to develop later in life than the less common type 1, or 'insulin-dependent' diabetes, and initially can be associated with limited or no symptoms. Treatment begins with diet and exercise or oral medications and only in the later stages of the disease may patients need regular insulin injections.

Importantly, the results of this study indicate that people need to take a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes more seriously. Individuals with type 2 diabetes frequently develop multiple complications, which can lead to blindness, amputation or cardiovascular problems. The risk of heart disease is increased 24 times in people with diabetes. (2)

In the research reported today, investigators looked at records of 1.9 million patient visits between 1991 and 1997 and selected for study all individuals over 45 years of age with type 2 diabetes.

They found extremely high rates of discontinuation for some types of OADs. For example, 50% of patients receiving acarbose, a drug that lowers blood glucose by interfering with the breakdown of carbohydrates in the gut, had not refilled their prescription in the 12 months after first receiving the drug. In the two other main clas

Contact: Susie Hackett/Alexa Osman
MediTech Media Ltd.

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