Second-Line Therapy for Type 2 Diabetes Management: The Treatment/Benefit Paradox of Cardiovascular and Kidney Comorbidities

Rozalina G. McCoy, Holly K. Van Houten, Pinar Karaca-Mandic, Joseph S. Ross, Victor M. Montori, Nilay D. Shah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE To examine whether glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonists (GLP-1RA) and sodium–glucose cotransporter 2 inhibitors (SGLT2i) are preferentially initiated among patients with cardiovascular disease, heart failure (HF), or nephropathy, where these drug classes have established benefit, compared with dipeptidyl peptidase 4 inhibitors (DPP-4i), for which corresponding benefits have not been demonstrated. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS We retrospectively analyzed claims of adults with type 2 diabetes included in OptumLabs Data Warehouse, a deidentified database of commercially insured and Medicare Advantage beneficiaries, who first started GLP-1RA, SGLT2i, or DPP-4i therapy between 2016 and 2019. Using multinomial logistic regression, we examined the relative risk ratios (RRR) of starting GLP-1RA and SGLT2i compared with DPP-4i for those with a history of myocardial infarction (MI), cerebrovascular disease, HF, and nephropathy after adjusting for demographic and other clinical factors. RESULTS We identified 75,395 patients who started GLP-1RA, 58,234 who started SGLT2i, and 91,884 who started DPP-4i. Patients with prior MI, cerebrovascular disease, or nephropathy were less likely to start GLP-1RA rather than DPP-4i compared with patients without these conditions (RRR 0.83 [95% CI 0.78–0.88] for MI, RRR 0.77 [0.74–0.81] for cerebrovascular disease, and RRR 0.87 [0.84–0.91] for nephropathy). Patients with HF or nephropathy were less likely to start SGLT2i (RRR 0.83 [0.80–0.87] for HF and RRR 0.57 [0.55–0.60] for nephropathy). Both medication classes were less likely to be started by non-White and older patients. CONCLUSIONS Patients with cardiovascular disease, HF, and nephropathy, for whom evidence suggests a greater likelihood of benefiting from GLP-1RA and/or SGLT2i therapy, were less likely to start these drugs. Addressing this treatment/benefit paradox, which was most pronounced in non-White and older patients, may help reduce the morbidity associated with these conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2302-2311
Number of pages10
JournalDiabetes care
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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