Assessment of Second-Generation Diabetes Medication Initiation Among Medicare Enrollees From 2007 to 2015


Lauren G Gilstrap, Rachel A Blair, Haiden A Huskamp, Katya Zelevinsky, and Sharon-Lise Normand. 2020. “Assessment of Second-Generation Diabetes Medication Initiation Among Medicare Enrollees From 2007 to 2015.” JAMA Netw Open, 3, 5, Pp. e205411.


Importance: Little is known about how new and expensive drugs diffuse into practice affects health care costs. Objective: To describe the variation in second-generation diabetes drug use among Medicare enrollees between 2007 and 2015. Design, Setting, and Participants: This population-based, cross-sectional study included data from 100% of Medicare Parts A, B, and D enrollees who first received diabetes drug therapy from January 1, 2007, to December 31, 2015. Patients with type 1 diabetes were excluded. Data were analyzed beginning in the spring of 2018, and revisions were completed in 2019. Exposures: For each patient, the initial diabetes drug choice was determined; drugs were classified as first generation (ie, approved before 2000) or second generation (ie, approved after 2000, including dipeptidyl peptidase 4 [DPP-4] inhibitors, glucagon-like peptide-1 [GLP-1] receptor agonists, and sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 [SGLT-2] inhibitors). Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary outcome was the between-practice variation in use of second-generation diabetes drugs between 2007 and 2015. Practices with use rates of second-generation diabetes drugs more than 1 SD above the mean were considered high prescribing, while those with use rates more than 1 SD below the mean were considered low prescribing. Results: Among 1 182 233 patients who initiated diabetes drug therapy at 42 977 practices between 2007 and 2015, 1 104 718 (93.4%) were prescribed a first-generation drug (mean [SD] age, 75.4 [6.7] years; 627 134 [56.8%] women) and 77 515 (6.6%) were prescribed a second-generation drug (mean [SD] age, 76.5 [7.2] years; 44 697 [57.7%] women). By December 2015, 22 457 practices (52.2%) had used DPP-4 inhibitors once, compared with 3593 practices (8.4%) that had used a GLP-1 receptor agonist once. Furthermore, 17 452 practices (40.6%) were using DPP-4 inhibitors in 10% of eligible patients, while 1286 practices (3.0%) were using GLP-1 receptor agonists in 10% of eligible patients, and SGLT-2 inhibitors, available after March 2013, were used at least once by 1716 practices (4.0%) and used in 10% of eligible patients by 872 practices (2.0%) by December 2015. According to Poisson random-effect regression models, beneficiaries in high-prescribing practices were more than 3-fold more likely to receive DPP-4 inhibitors (relative risk, 3.55 [95% CI, 3.42-3.68]), 24-fold more likely to receive GLP-1 receptor agonists (relative risk, 24.06 [95% CI, 14.14-40.94]) and 60-fold more likely to receive SGLT-2 inhibitors (relative risk, 60.41 [95% CI, 15.99-228.22]) compared with beneficiaries in low-prescribing practices. Conclusions and Relevance: These findings suggest that there was substantial between-practice variation in the use of second-generation diabetes drugs between 2007 and 2015, with a concentration of use among a few prescribers and practices responsible for much of the early diffusion.