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Changing Patterns of Glucose-Lowering Medication Use in VA Nursing Home Residents With Diabetes, 2005 to 2011


Objective: Although nursing home (NH) residents make up a large and growing proportion of Americans with diabetes mellitus, little is known about how glucose-lowering medications are used in this population. We sought to examine glucose-lowering medication use in Veterans Affairs (VA) NH residents with diabetes between 2005 and 2011. Research Design and Methods: Retrospective cohort study, using linked laboratory, pharmacy, administrative, and NH Minimum Dataset (MDS) 2.0 databases in 123 VA NHs. A total of 9431 long-stay (>90 days) VA NH residents older than 65 followed for 52,313 person-quarters. We identified receipt of glucose-lowering medications, including insulin, metformin, sulfonylureas, thiazolidinediones, and others (alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, meglitinides, glucagonlike peptide-1 analogs, dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors and amylin analogs) per quarter. Results: The rates of sulfonylurea use in long-stay NH residents dropped dramatically from 24% in 2005 to 12% in 2011 (P <.001), driven in large part by the dramatic decrease in glyburide use (10% to 2%, P <.001). There was sharp drop in thiazolidinedione use in 2007 (4% to <1%, P <.001). Metformin use was stable, ranging between 7% and 9% (P =24). Insulin use increased slightly from 30% to 32% (P <.001). Use of other classes of glucose-lowering medications was stable (P =22) and low, remaining below 1.3%. Conclusions and Relevance: Between 2005 and 2011, there were dramatic declines in use of sulfonylureas and thiazolidinediones in VA NH residents, suggesting that prescribing practices can be quickly changed in this setting.

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