As Diabetes Numbers Rise, Costs Mount

Diabetes treatment has seen sweeping changes in recent years, as more patients are diagnosed, and as the estimated cost to Americans—$245 billion in 2012—continues to rise. People with diabetes are diagnosed earlier, live longer, and have a wider range of treatments than even a few years ago.

And pharmacists are playing a larger role in treating a disease that now affects more than 30 million people. Pharmacists help patients manage the disease and even advise potential diabetes patients on how to prevent it.

StatisticBy 2012—the last time the American Diabetes Association (ADA) surveyed the expense of the disease—Americans were spending $176 billion in care associated with its treatment. The remaining $69 billion is ascribed to lost productivity. Medical costs include both direct and indirect impact, such as the way diabetes brings on or exacerbates other conditions.

“If we see someone is in the hospital with the flu, they’ll stay in longer if they have diabetes,” said Matt Petersen, the ADA’s Managing Director of Medical Information.

Peterson is putting together the next five-year report on the cost of diabetes, due out next year. “I think we’ll inevitably see an increase,” he told Drug Topics

Diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States, according to the CDC. Ranking diseases and conditions, however, is difficult because of overlap with other ailments, so the ADA does not try, Peterson said.

The steady climb in costs is due to the sheer numbers of Americans developing diabetes. The difference in average health-care costs between those who have diabetes and those who don’t remains about the same, Peterson said. But the rate of diabetes has grown steadily over the past half-century or so.

 The increasing monies spent on treating diabetes are not going to waste, Peterson said. “We’re getting what we’re paying for,” he said. “People with diabetes are doing much better than they were twenty or thirty years ago.” 

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