Multifactorial Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes Proves Cost Effective


People with T2D have an increased risk of damage to the eyes, kidneys, nerves, legs, heart and brain, and many of these complications can ultimately affect mortality.

Intensified, multifactorial treatment combining lifestyle modification and pharmacological therapy for modifiable type 2 diabetes (T2D) risk factors, did not significantly increase medical costs, compared to patients who receive conventional, multifactorial treatment, according to a study presented at the American Diabetes Association’s® (ADA’s) 78th Scientific Sessions.

A 1993 study, dubbed Steno 2, investigated whether a targeted, intensified, multifactorial regimen would have an impact on the mortality rate of patients with T2D from any cause, including cardiovascular causes. The trial enrolled 160 Danish people with T2D with consistent microalbuminuria and an average age of 55 years. Very small amounts of albumin in the urineindicates generalized blood vessel damage and is a strong predictor of premature, multiple organ damage.

The patients were randomly assigned to 2 groups: 80 patients received conventional multifactorial treatment, based upon recommendations of the Danish Medical Association at the time; and 80 patients received intensified multifactorial intervention. In the intensified treatment group, all modifiable risk factors were treated ambitiously, and the group’s target levels for blood glucose, HbA1c, blood pressure, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides were lower than those for the conventional treatment group. Treatment focused on polypharmacological approaches to cardiovascular issues, as well as improved health behaviors via nutrition, exercise and smoking cessation.

After 7.8 years of treatment, the people in the intensified treatment group had an approximate 50% reduction in diabetes-related damage to the heart, brain and legs, compared to the patients receiving conventional care. All patients were subsequently followed observationally for an average of 5.5 years in a post-trial setting in which all study participants received intensified, multifactorial treatment. At 13.3 years follow-up, the group originally allocated to intensified treatment had a 50% reduction in mortality, and at 21.2 years follow-up, a median of 7.9 years of gain of life was demonstrated. The increase in lifespan was matched by the amount of time the patients went without cardiovascular disease incidents.

The analysis presented at the ADA meeting compared the long-term economic implications of the intensified multifactorial intervention to conventional treatment over the 21.2-year timeframe. Information on direct health costs was gathered from Danish health registers. Researchers found no difference in total direct medical costs between the intensified treatment group and the conventional treatment group over the 21.2 years of follow-up.

The total costs in the intensified treatment group was approximately $13 million, and total costs in the conventional treatment group was $12.3 million (P=0.19). The data also indicated a statistically significant lower health cost per-patient, per-year in the intensified treatment group ($9,648 per patient), compared to the conventional treatment group ($10,681 per patient; p=0.13) during the entire follow-up period. Intensified treatment was, on average, more expensive in terms of medication costs, but less costly in terms of primary care visits and inpatient admission services related to cardiovascular issues.

“The Steno-2 trial was instrumental in establishing treatment standards for people with T2D, so it was important that we weighed the costs of the intensified multifactorial treatment recommended in the study,” junior lead study author Joachim Gaede, a graduate student in the medicine program at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark said in a press release about the results. “We discovered that while intensified, multifactorial treatment may lead to an initial increase in health care costs, this investment is recouped over time by the impressive health benefits and increased longevity the patients experienced. Additionally, the total direct costs of intensified, multifactorial intervention, which leads to disease-free-life length improvement of about eight years, was neutral compared to conventional treatment. So, in terms of cost, investing in early-intensified intervention of all known modifiable risk factors in high-risk individuals with T2D will pay for itself over time due to a reduced cost of complications incurred by patients.”

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