Side Effects Stop Some From Taking Prescribed Diabetes Med Doses

By combining clinical trial and observational study data on 1.6 million people, researchers at the University of Surrey looked at adherence rates for tablet and injectable diabetes medications.

They found that, compared to other type 2 diabetes drugs, people taking metformin were the least likely to take prescribed dosages. More specifically, 30 percent of the prescribed metformin doses were not taken, compared to 23 percent of sulfonylurea doses, and 20 percent for pioglitazone (Actos).

When injectable drugs were compared, the investigators found people were twice as likely to quit taking GLP1 receptor agonists (e.g., exenatide) compared with insulin.

Researchers think the reason for differences in adherence rates is partly owed to side effects of the various drugs. Metformin, for instance, can create gastrointestinal discomfort (e.g., diarrhea, flatulence), whereas newer medications, such as the gliptins (e.g., Januvia), are generally better tolerated. Having to take multiple doses per day may also influence medication adherence.

“The importance of diabetes patients taking their prescribed medication cannot be underestimated,” said Dr. Andy McGovern, Clinical Researcher at the University of Surrey. “A failure to do so can lead to complications in their condition including eye disease and kidney damage.”

“I urge anyone who is struggling to take their medication as prescribed, whether this is because of side effects or because the schedule is too complicated, to discuss this openly with their doctor or nurse,” adds McGovern. “I would also encourage doctors and nurses to actively ask their patients about medication adherence.”

Because there are many treatment options for type 2 diabetes, the researchers note that switching patients to a different medication class is a simple way for physicians to increase treatment adherence.

Source: Science Daily
Photo credit: David Goehring

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