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People With Diabetes Are Facing Rising Prices For Lifesaving Drugs

People with diabetes are facing rising prices for lifesaving drugs

People with diabetes are facing rising prices for lifesaving drugs

Among treatments for chronic conditions, diabetes drugs aren’t nearly as sexy as, say, Sovaldi, last year’s breakthrough hepatitis C drug that offers a cure for the chronic liver infection at a price approaching six figures.
Yet an estimated 29 million Americans have diabetes — about 10 times the number with hepatitis C — and many of them will take diabetes drugs for the rest of their lives. Cost increases for both old and new drugs are forcing many consumers to scramble to pay for them.
“Every week I see patients who can’t afford their drugs,” says endocrinologist Joel Zonszein, director of the clinical diabetes center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York.
Many people with diabetes take multiple drugs that work in different ways to control their blood sugar. Although some of the top-selling diabetes drugs, such as metformin, are modestly priced generics, new brand-name drugs continue to be introduced. They may be more effective and have fewer side effects, but these advantages often come at a price. In 2014 for the fourth year in a row, spending on diabetes drugs was higher on a per-member basis than it was for any other class of traditional drug, according to the Express Scripts Drug Trend Report. Fewer than half of the prescriptions filled for diabetes treatments were generic.
“The cost of diabetes treatment has been increasing pretty rapidly,” says Glen Stettin, senior vice president for clinical, research and new solutions at Express Scripts, which manages the pharmacy benefits for many companies.
Last year the cost of Humalog, a fast-acting insul Continue reading

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USF Study: Inexpensive Drug Could Cut Type 2 Diabetes Cases By 30 Percent

USF Study: Inexpensive Drug Could Cut Type 2 Diabetes Cases By 30 Percent

According to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 29 million people in the United States have diabetes – many of them the Type 2 form of the disease. That's where the body doesn't produce enough insulin on its own.
But another 86 million adults have prediabetes, with up to a third at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes within five years.
Now while experts say a change in lifestyle, with a healthier diet and more exercise, would cut that number down, so could an inexpensive, generic prescription drug called metformin - a drug that is currently being used by only 0.7 percent of patients with prediabetes.
Dr. Nicholas Carris, an assistant professor at the University of South Florida College of Pharmacy, recently co-authored a study looking at the cost-effectiveness of the drug in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association.
(Note: You must be a member to view the full study.
Disclosure: Carris and his fellow authors have no conflicts of interest or financial interests in metformin or any other product or service mentioned in the article.)
Carris recently sat down with WUSF's University Beat to discuss the findings of the study. Here are some highlights:
What does metformin do?
"Metformin is our first-line medication actually to treat Type 2 diabetes and it's been studied also to prevent diabetes. It's a generic medication, it helps lower blood sugar.
"For people with prediabetes, it can also help them lose weight -- just a little bit -- and that was found out in the Diabetes Prevention Program research study, which is what Continue reading

Diabetes Medication Adherence Cuts Costs by 4%, Boosts Outcomes

Diabetes Medication Adherence Cuts Costs by 4%, Boosts Outcomes

For the 11.6 million commercially-insured patients using diabetic medications, this could produce a total savings of more than $210 million per year in medical and pharmaceutical costs while reducing long-term complications from the extremely common metabolic disease.
“Adherence to diabetes medications is critical not only for preventing the catastrophic consequences of the disease, but also for lowering total healthcare costs,” explains the report.
While adherence rates have increased slightly since 2014, only 63 percent of diabetic adults with commercial insurance were adherent to their drug regimens in 2016, Express Scripts found.
This relatively low number indicates a significant opportunity for pharmacists and healthcare providers to improve the way they educate patients, deliver medications, and foster continued engagement.
READ MORE: Medication Nonadherence Challenges 70% of Statin Patients
Payers spend more than $9000 per diabetic individual on medical expenses, which is close to triple what it costs to care for a beneficiary without diabetes. Those costs can rise drastically when patients do not have access to injected or oral medications, either due to financial hardship or behavioral issues.
Out-of-pocket drug costs for patients are on the rise, significantly complicating the issue. A quarter of patients are paying more for their drugs in 2017 than they did a year ago, says one recent survey, and 14 percent have skipped filling a prescription because they could not afford it.
Failing to fill prescriptions can have serious impacts on individual health as well Continue reading

Starting low carb with diabetes medications

Starting low carb with diabetes medications

So you have diabetes and you want to try a low-carb diet? Congratulations! It may be the single best thing you could ever do for your health. It can start to reverse your type 2 diabetes, and dramatically increase your blood sugar control with type 1 diabetes.
However, you need to know what you are doing. Once you start eating low carb you may instantly have to lower any insulin doses, a lot.
Avoiding the carbohydrates that raise your blood sugar decreases your need for medication to lower it. Taking the same dose of insulin as you did prior to adopting a low-carb diet might result in hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
You need to test your blood sugar frequently when starting this diet and adapt (lower) your medication. This should ideally be done with the assistance of a knowledgeable physician.
No drugs
If you have diabetes and you’re treated either by diet alone or just with Metformin there is no risk of low blood sugar on low carb. You can get started right away.
Insulin
As a general guide you may need to lower your doses by 30-50% or more when starting a strict low-carb diet.
Unfortunately there’s no way to know the doses required in advance. You’ll have to test your blood sugar frequently and adapt (lower) insulin doses. This should ideally be done with the assistance of a knowledgeable physician.
Note that as a general rule it’s easier to err on the low side, and take more insulin later if needed. That’s fine. If instead you overdose and get low sugar you’ll have to quickly eat or drink more carbohydrates, and that obviously reduces the effect of the low-ca Continue reading

Gout and Diabetes

Gout and Diabetes

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Gout is a form of arthritis (inflammation of joints) caused by high levels of uric acid. Gout can be a painful condition but one that can be managed to reduce the frequency at which gout attacks occur.
Gout is known to affect around 1 in 100 people in the UK and is around four times more common in men than in women.
Research shows that people with gout are significantly more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than people without gout.
Gout and diabetes
A number of research papers have shown associations between gout and type 2 diabetes including a study from Harvard Medical School, published in 2014, which showed gout to be associated with a 70 increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
A common medication for treating gout, allopurinol, has shown promise for reducing thickening of heart muscle and is currently undergoing testing as a possible medication for reducing risk of diabetic nephropathy (kidney disease).
Symptoms of gout
Gout is characterised by swelling of joints. The base of the big toe is most commonly affected by gout. More than one joint may be affected by gout in some people.
Symptoms can come on quickly, with swelling occurring within a few hours. The swollen joint can be very painful and sensitive to touch. During swelling, skin covering the joint may typically turn red and shiny in appearance.
The swelling and symptoms may occur for several days if not treated. Once the inflammation has subsided, the skin on the joint may become itchy and flaky.
Causes of gout
Gout occurs if high levels of uric acid in the blood leads to crystals of sodium urate fo Continue reading

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