2 September 2014 Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs: Oral Medications (Pills) for Type 2 Diabetes

Having diabetes is expensive. According to the American Diabetes Association, millions of people in the United States now have diabetes and their average healthcare cost per year ($13,700) is more than double the cost of those without diabetes. Prescription diabetes medications are a part of that cost so choosing a less expensive medication will save you a lot of money over time. But you don’t want to just save money. You want your medication to control your diabetes while also having minimal or no side effects.

For Type 2 diabetes, the least expensive “first line” therapy is lifestyle: 1) a healthier, carb-controlled eating plan and 2) regular exercise. But many of you have progressed far enough along the diabetes continuum that you can no longer control your blood glucose by diet and exercise alone – you need more help. And that is where the oral diabetes medications (pills) come in as a first line therapy for people with Type 2 diabetes.

Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs

Healthline published an article written by Consumer Reports “Find the Best Medications for Type 2 Diabetes.” This is the same report published online at Consumer Reports. I strongly urge you to read the report - it contains a lot of helpful information that is not described in this post.

According to Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs, to get their Best Buy rating, the diabetes drug had to:

  • Be as effective as or more effective than other oral diabetes medicines
  • Have a safety record equal to or better than other oral diabetes medicines
  • Cost roughly the same or less than other oral diabetes medicines

Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs - Oral Medications for Type 2 Diabetes

Metformin and Metformin Sustained-Release — alone or with glipizide or glimepiride
Glipizide and Glipizide Sustained-Release — alone or with metformin
Glimepiride — alone or with metformin

The cost of these generic drugs can range from about 7% of the cost of the brand label (e.g. generic Glipizide 10 mg vs Glucotrol 10 mg) to 42% of the brand label cost (generic Metformin sustained release 750 mg vs. Glucotrol XR 750 mg). That is why the generic versions are Best Buys whereas their brand name counterparts are not, despite the same amount of active ingredient.

Be aware that two new oral medications (SGLT2 Inhibitors) were not available for comparison at the time this report was published – Canagliflozin (Invokana) and dapagliflozin (Farxiga). For more basic information on classes of drugs for Type 2 diabetes, please see the American Diabetes Association.

What is Best for You?

Your doctor can assess the best diabetes prescription for you, given your medical history. If you have questions or concerns about your diabetes medications, please contact your doctor to discuss them. Just because a medication is a CR Best Buy doesn’t make it the best choice for you.

Other Posts on Diabetes Control

For those of you who have followed my “Diabetes Diary” posts in the past, I am no longer including that term in the title although I will try to address diabetes-relevant material in the first Tuesday of the month post. Here are previous posts directly related to diabetes. The A1C Test (5/7/13)
Carb Controlled Snacks (6/4/13)
Enjoying the 4th of July (7/2/13)
Great Websites for People with Diabetes (8/6/13)
Are You Feeling Distressed or Depressed? (9/3/13)
Do You Know Your ABCs? (10/1/13)
The Diabetes Prevention & Management Cookbook (11/5/13)
Not Enough Sleep Could be Impairing Both Your Weight & Diabetes Control! (1/7/14)
How Do You Count Your Carbs? (2/4/14)
Do You Get Low Blood Sugar? (3/4/14)
Tips for Testing Your Blood Glucose (8/12/14)

Katherine Isacks, MPS, RD, CDE
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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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Diabetes/Medications

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