Published Jul 21, 2015

Zhejiang, China - China leads among the countries with the highest prevalence of diabetes. In 2010, the prevalence of diabetes in Chinese adults 18 years and older was 11.6% (113.9 million). Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) accounts for at least 90% of diabetes. It has brought great burden in terms of health care cost and socioeconomic consequences, reaching $26.0 billion in 2007 in direct medical costs and predicted to be $47.2 billion by 2030 in China.

The full study, “Cost Minimization Analysis of Metformin and Acarbose in Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes,” was published in Value in Health Regional Issues focusing on Asia, Volume 6.

Researchers from Center for Health Policy Studies, School of Public Health, Zhejiang University School of Medicine conducted the first cost-minimization analysis of metformin and acarbose--two extensively adopted agents--in treating T2DM based on the results from a meta-analysis study with large sample sizes and adequate clinical data in China. The study determined that metformin is more cost-effective than acarbose, which can save annual treatment costs by 39.87% to 40.97% compared to acarbose; under a wide range of assumptions on utilization profile and physician prescribing behavior, metformin saves costs by 19.83% to 40.97% in patients whose weight is 60kg or less and by 39.87% to 70.49% in patients whose weight is more than 60kg. Findings from this study are consistent with those from previous studies.

Professor Hengjin Dong, PhD, Center for Health Policy Studies, School of Public health, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China, stated, “Economic evaluation of medical products is important in a country such as China, where it is now recommended by law that technical evaluation for the drugs be conducted by using evidence-based medicine and pharmacoeconomics approaches. Metformin provides better value for money than does acarbose. It is undoubtedly the first choice in the management of T2DM, with significantly glucose-lowering effects and low treatment costs.”

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