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Patient Prefer Adherence. 2010 Sep 7;4:283-90.

Modeling the economic impact of medication adherence in type 2 diabetes: a theoretical approach.

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  • 1Department of Health Policy and Management, Section of Health Economics - Medical Technology Assessment (HE-MTA), Erasmus MC, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands;



While strong correlations exist between medication adherence and health economic outcomes in type 2 diabetes, current economic analyses do not adequately consider them. We propose a new approach to incorporate adherence in cost-effectiveness analysis.


We describe a theoretical approach to incorporating the effect of adherence when estimating the long-term costs and effectiveness of an antidiabetic medication. This approach was applied in a Markov model which includes common diabetic health states. We compared two treatments using hypothetical patient cohorts: injectable insulin (IDM) and oral (OAD) medications. Two analyses were performed, one which ignored adherence (analysis 1) and one which incorporated it (analysis 2). Results from the two analyses were then compared to explore the extent to which adherence may impact incremental cost-effectiveness ratios.


In both analyses, IDM was more costly and more effective than OAD. When adherence was ignored, IDM generated an incremental cost-effectiveness of $12,097 per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) gained versus OAD. Incorporation of adherence resulted in a slightly higher ratio ($16,241/QALY). This increase was primarily due to better adherence with OAD than with IDM, and the higher direct medical costs for IDM.


Incorporating medication adherence into economic analyses can meaningfully influence the estimated cost-effectiveness of type 2 diabetes treatments, and should therefore be considered in health care decision-making. Future work on the impact of adherence on health economic outcomes, and validation of different approaches to modeling adherence, is warranted.


adherence; cost-effectiveness; diabetes; economics; modeling

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