A recently published US government survey has revealed an increase in diabetes patients taking pills to combat their disease, while the amount of diabetics using insulin has fallen over the same period.
The survey, by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, found that the proportion of people in the US that suffer from diabetes who took oral medications went up from 60 per cent in 1997 to 77 per cent in 2007. Over the same period, it was found that those who took insulin to control blood sugar levels as part of their treatment for diabetes decreased from 38 per cent to 24 per cent.
Eric Sarpong, lead author of the survey, said “There’s been a shift toward the use of newer, more expensive diabetes medications.” It is believed that part of this trend is due to doctors treating patients with diabetes earlier with pills, especially with the increasing number of alternatives coming onto the market.
Susan Spratt, an endocrinologist at Duke University Medical Center, commented “In the past, physicians may have recommended first lifestyle changes without other medical therapy. The new paradigm is lifestyle changes and the oral anti-diabetic metformin at diagnosis.”
However, this survey only analysed data up to 2007, so will not include current concerns about the safety of pills such as Avandia and Actos, both of which are in the class of medications called thiazolidinediones (TZDs).

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