During the American Diabetes Association meeting in June, Medtronic (Minneapolis) reported the results of a company-supported health analysis that said the U.S. economy could save up to $72 billion if Americans kept their blood glucose levels in line with current treatment guidelines.

Guidelines recommended by the ADA and American Association of Clinical Endocrinology (Jacksonville, Florida) call for diabetic patients to maintain A1c (a test that measures average blood glucose over a two- to three-month period) levels at below 7% and 6.5%, respectively.

The health analysis reported by Medtronic said that lowering A1c levels to the recommended levels would save between $35 billion and $50 billion indirect medical costs over a 10-year period, with indirect costs, such as lost work time or disability, bringing that figure to between $50 billion and $72 billion.

The predictive analysis is part of the Center for Outcomes Research Diabetes Model, which projects costs and outcomes for diabetes patients based on data from major clinical and epidemiological studies.

Michael Minshall, director of the Switzerland-based center’s U.S. unit, said tighter control of A1c would make an “enormous difference” in the life of diabetes patients.

Another CORE Diabetes Model analysis reported at the ADA meeting, this one based on Swiss data, projected that insulin pump therapy could increase life expectancy for Type 1 diabetics by 10 months, compared to those who have multiple daily injections of insulin, and could reduce lifetime treatment costs by some $8,400.

“This analysis indicates that pump therapy can reduce the potentially debilitating or fatal side effects of diabetes,” said Andrew Palmer, MD, medical director of CORE. He added that use of an insulin pump “[improves] blood sugar control and ... quality of life.”

— Jim Stommen, Executive Editor

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