Report: Poor Diabetes Medication Adherence Costs US Billions

July 15, 2016

Suboptimal medication adherence and persistence among patients with type 2 diabetes is causing avoidable complications and significant economic and societal burden, according to a new report by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. The report looked at adherence and persistence among patients with type 2 diabetes in the United States as well as the United Kingdom, Brazil, Germany, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia.

On average, fewer than 40% of patients globally are fully complying with diabetes therapy, according to the report. Among the 6 countries analyzed, nonadherence rates varied significantly, ranging from 46% to 77%.

Improving adherence and persistence could cut the cost of complications from diabetes between 4% and 15%, IMS Health reported. For the US Medicare population, better adherence could yield an estimated $4 billion in annual avoidable costs.

Furthermore, current strategies to improve health outcomes in the countries studied are failing to focus on treatment adherence, according to the report, which provided several specific recommendations:

  • identifying and profiling patients in need of help,
  • improving access to customized educational materials,
  • maximizing engagement between patients and providers, and
  • using digital technology to promote effective self-management.

“The rising prevalence of type 2 diabetes and its associated complications is the root of considerable strain on society and an economic burden on healthcare systems,” said Murray Aitken, senior vice president of IMS Health and executive director of the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics.

“Simple, customized interventions that put patients on the path to optimal adherence and persistence can yield tangible results, but require alignment between healthcare and government leaders, as well as the active involvement of voluntary associations and the private sector.”—Jolynn Tumolo



IMS Health study: low levels of adherence and persistence remain barriers to reducing the costs of diabetes complications [press release]. IMS Health: Parsippany, NJ; July 12, 2016.