Prescribing fixed-dose combinations of diabetes medications may reduce the pill burden many patients feel, according to new research published in Diabetes Care.
German researchers surveyed more than 3,800 patients with type 2 diabetes (more than 6 years) and 600 physicians about medication regimens. The vast majority of providers agreed that multiple pills made it harder for diabetes patients to adhere to treatment.
Most patients were taking 3 to 6 total pills daily. Seniors, half of whom took more than 6 tablets daily, felt particularly burdened, because many required assistance with taking their medications.
Most patients identified their medication by appearance, such as by the pill’s shape, size, and color. Two-thirds agreed that using the right medication becomes harder when its appearance changes, for example, because of a product switch. Half of the patients worried they would forget to take their pills or take the wrong kind or dose.
Physicians were well aware of the problems, and many opted to use fixed-dose combinations of medication to reduce the pill burden.
Type 2 diabetes and its associated comorbidities often require polypharmacotherapy, which may result in poor adherence to treatment. This study evaluated, using subjective patient and physician questionnaire surveys, the impact of pill burden and its associated consequences on patients treated with vildagliptin as add-on to metformin, a fixed-dose combination of vildagliptin/metformin, or another dual oral antidiabetic therapy. Patients’ responses were also analyzed by age (<65 or ≥65 years). The surveys revealed that a high pill count in antidiabetic therapy constitutes a large burden for patients with type 2 diabetes.