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BACKGROUND: Medication nonadherence is an imperative public health concern. Among patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), poor adherence to antidiabetic agents is strongly associated with suboptimal glycemic control. Poor adherence and hyperglycemia greatly increase diabetes-related morbidity and mortality. At a national level, diabetes drug adherence using average proportion of days covered (PDC) is estimated to range between 36% and 81%, with an estimated range for diabetes control between 38% and 47%. At a state level no such studies exist.

OBJECTIVE: To estimate the level of medication adherence to antidiabetic agents and of diabetes control, and their association among patients with T2DM receiving medication treatment at the state and the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) levels among the populations covered by commercial insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid.

METHODS: The study population included adults with T2DM aged ≥ 18 years who were identified using ICD-9-CM code 250.xx, who received diabetes medication, and who were covered by private insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid in each state, the District of Columbia, and the top 50 MSAs. Medication adherence was measured by average PDC and the percentage of population that had a PDC ≥ 80%. Diabetes control was identified using ICD-9-CM diagnosis codes. Patients who were not diagnosed with uncontrolled diabetes (250.x2 and 250.x3) were identified as being under control. The administrative claims databases used for this study included the 2012 medical and pharmacy claims from a large U.S. health plan, the complete 2011 Medicare Standard Analytical File linked with Part D claims, and the 2008 Mini-Medicaid Analytic eXtract (Mini-Max). Medication adherence and diabetes control were adjusted for age and sex to allow comparison across insurance coverage, states, and MSAs.

RESULTS: For an insured patient population with T2DM that received diabetic drug treatment, average PDC was 79%. However, 35% of patients did not achieve an adherence of at least 80% of PDC. In addition, at least 40% of patients did not have their diabetes under control. Across insurance types, we found that patients insured with Medicare had relatively high average PDC and adherence levels (83% and 71%) in comparison with the commercially insured population (77% and 60%) and Medicaid patients (75% and 57%). In contrast, commercially insured patients had relatively better diabetes control (69%) than those insured with Medicare and Medicaid (54% and 53%, respectively). At a state level, we found that commercially insured and Medicare populations have relatively smaller geographic variation in drug adherence than the Medicaid population.

CONCLUSIONS: This study identified gaps in T2DM drug adherence and pinpointed geographic areas that lag in terms of diabetes drug adherence or diabetes control and would benefit from implementing strategies to increase drug adherence.

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Originally published in the Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy, 21(12), 1195-1202e. Reprinted with permission. doi:10.18553/jmcp.2015.21.12.1195