Changing use of antidiabetic drugs in the UK: trends in prescribing 2000-2017.

Wilkinson, S. ; Douglas, I. ; Stirnadel-Farrant, H. ; Fogarty, D. ; Pokrajac, A. ; Smeeth, L. ; Tomlinson, L. ;
Changing use of antidiabetic drugs in the UK: trends in prescribing 2000-2017.
BMJ Open, 2018; 8(7):e022768

Guidelines for the use of drugs for type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) have changed since 2000, and new classes of drug have been introduced. Our aim was to describe how drug choice at initiation and first stage of intensification have changed over this period, and to what extent prescribing was in accord with clinical guidelines, including adherence to recommendations regarding kidney function.

Repeated cross-sectional study.

UK electronic primary care health records from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink.

Adults initiating treatment with a drug for T2DM between January 2000 and July 2017.

The primary outcomes were the proportion of each class of T2DM drug prescribed for initiation and first-stage intensification in each year. We also examined drug prescribing by kidney function and country within the UK.

Of 280 241 people initiating treatment with T2DM drugs from 2000 to 2017, 73% (204 238/280 241) initiated metformin, 15% (42 288/280 241) a sulfonylurea, 5% (12 956/280 241) with metformin and sulfonylurea dual therapy and 7% (20 759/280 241) started other options. Clinicians have increasingly prescribed metformin at initiation: by 2017 this was 89% (2475/2778) of drug initiations. Among people with an estimated glomerular filtration rate of ≤30 mL/min/1.73 m2, the most common drug at initiation was a sulfonylurea, 58% (659/1135). In 2000, sulfonylureas were the predominant drug at the first stage of drug intensification (87%, 534/615) but by 2017 this fell to 30% (355/1183) as the use of newer drug classes increased. In 2017, new prescriptions for dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors (DPP4i) and sodium/glucose cotransporter-2 inhibitors (SGLT2i) accounted for 42% (502/1183) and 22% (256/1183) of intensification drugs, respectively. Uptake of new classes differs by country with DPP4is and SGLT2is prescribed more in Northern Ireland and Wales than England or Scotland.

Our findings show markedly changing prescribing patterns for T2DM between 2000 and 2017, largely consistent with clinical guidelines.