Andrew Sumarsono, MD UT Southwestern Medical Center

Medicare Part D Spent $22 Billion on Diabetes Medications in 2017 Interview with:

Andrew Sumarsono, MD UT Southwestern Medical Center

Dr. Sumarsono

Andrew Sumarsono, MD
UT Southwestern Medical Center What is the background for this study?  

Response: There are currently 12 types of medications used to treat type 2 diabetes. With approximately 30 million adults living with diabetes in the United States, the rising cost of insulin has raised concerns about the affordability of diabetes care.

We evaluated trends in total spending and number of prescriptions of all diabetes therapies among Medicare Part D beneficiaries between 2012 and 2017. What are the main findings? 

Response: Medicare Part D spent $22 billion on therapies for diabetes in 2017, and a total of $94 billion between 2012 and 2017. Insulin costs contributed most to total spending. Metformin was the most commonly prescribed diabetes drug, with 163 million prescriptions filled between 2012 and 2017. The spending per prescription of the newest diabetes drugs is growing faster than insulin. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: While overall diabetes spending is rapidly increasing, overall insulin expenditure growth appears to be slowing. In contrast, spending and use of the newer diabetes medications has been increasing. With the growing complexity of diabetes management, rising costs of diabetes care may pose barriers to access and affordability. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work? 

Response: Further work should investigate how current spending patterns on diabetes care impact future health care spending. 

I have no disclosures.  


Sumarsono A, Everett BM, McGuire DK, et al. Trends in Aggregate Use and Associated Expenditures of Antihyperglycemic Therapies Among US Medicare Beneficiaries Between 2012 and 2017. JAMA Intern Med. Published online September 30, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.3884


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Last Updated on October 3, 2019 by Marie Benz MD FAAD