Time trends in prescribing of type 2 diabetes drugs, glycaemic response and risk factors: a retrospective analysis of primary care data, 2010-2017

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Aim: To describe population-level time trends in prescribing patterns of type 2 diabetes therapy, and in short-term clinical outcomes (glycated haemoglobin [HbA1c], weight, blood pressure, hypoglycaemia and treatment discontinuation) after initiating new therapy. Materials and methods: We studied 81 532 people with type 2 diabetes initiating a first- to fourth-line drug in primary care between 2010 and 2017 inclusive in United Kingdom electronic health records (Clinical Practice Research Datalink). Trends in new prescriptions and subsequent 6- and 12-month adjusted changes in glycaemic response (reduction in HbA1c), weight, blood pressure and rates of hypoglycaemia and treatment discontinuation were examined. Results: Use of dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors as second-line therapy near doubled (41% of new prescriptions in 2017 vs. 22% in 2010), replacing sulphonylureas as the most common second-line drug (29% in 2017 vs. 53% in 2010). Sodium-glucose co-transporter-2 inhibitors, introduced in 2013, comprised 17% of new first- to fourth-line prescriptions by 2017. First-line use of metformin remained stable (91% of new prescriptions in 2017 vs. 91% in 2010). Over the study period there was little change in average glycaemic response and in the proportion of people discontinuing treatment. There was a modest reduction in weight after initiating second- and third-line therapy (improvement in weight change 2017 vs. 2010 for second-line therapy: −1.5 kg, 95% confidence interval [CI] −1.9, −1.1; P < 0.001), and a slight reduction in systolic blood pressure after initiating first-, second- and third-line therapy (improvement in systolic blood pressure change 2017 vs. 2010 range: −1.7 to −2.1 mmHg; all P < 0.001). Hypoglycaemia rates decreased over time with second-line therapy (incidence rate ratio 0.94 per year, 95% CI 0.88, 1.00; P = 0.04), mirroring the decline in use of sulphonylureas. Conclusions: Recent changes in prescribing of therapy for people with type 2 diabetes have not led to a change in glycaemic response and have resulted in modest improvements in other population-level short-term clinical outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1576-1584
Number of pages9
JournalDiabetes, Obesity & Metabolism
Issue number7
Early online date3 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019



  • SGLT2 inhibitor
  • glycaemic control
  • hypoglycaemia
  • primary care
  • type 2 diabetes
  • weight control

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