Human Insulin as Good as Costly Synthetic Versions
The new study included people with type 2 diabetes who were followed for an average of 1.7 years after they started using insulin.
"We found that for patients with type 2 diabetes in usual practice, the use of the more expensive insulin analogs did not appear to result in better safety -- at least as defined by hospital or emergency visits for hypoglycemia -- or better blood sugar control," said lead author Dr. Kasia Lipska. She is an assistant professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine.
"This suggests that many people with type 2 diabetes should consider starting with [human] insulin, instead of insulin analogs, especially if cost is an issue for them," she added in a Yale news release.
About 25 percent of people with type 2 diabetes eventually require insulin to control their blood sugar.
According to study co-author Andrew Karter, "For decades, people initiating insulin treatment were prescribed human insulin. Then in the 2000s, a new generation of long-acting insulin analogs emerged that were designed to mimic human insulin." Karter is a senior research scientist in Kaiser Permanente's division of research.
Lipska explained that "the problem is that insulin analogs are much more expensive" than human insulin.
A vial of insulin analog costs about $200 to $300, compared with $25 for a vial of human insulin. In the United States, the cost of analog insulin tripled between 2002 and 2013, the study authors noted.
Previous research by Karter showed that higher out-of-pocket costs make diabetes patients less likely to take prescribed medicines.
"The cost differential between analog and [human] insulins is huge, up to a 10-fold difference," Karter said. "Some people with type 2 diabetes may find the potential benefits of insulin analogs worth the additional cost. But we found no population-level evidence to suggest that the extra expenditure is warranted for most people with type 2 diabetes, particularly when the high cost could prevent some of them from getting the treatment they need."
The study was published June 23 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
© 2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.
Posted: June 2018
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