Type 2 diabetics are not taking their medications

More than a third of type 2 diabetics aren’t taking their life-saving drugs, a major new review has found.

Experts say patients who are failing to take their medication, which can significantly reduce the risk of death, are at risk of ‘dramatic consequences’.

The study, dubbed ‘alarming’ and ‘important’, was based on medical records of more than 318,000 sufferers of the preventable condition.

It suggested that many of the 380 million sufferers worldwide are confused about the sheer amount of drugs they have to take on a daily basis, including metformin which lowers blood sugar to prevent life-changing complications.

The results are worrying, considering the epidemic of type 2 diabetes across the world due to rising levels of obesity and unhealthy lifestyles. 

Often thought of as harmless, type 2 diabetes is a hidden killer and can lead to heart failure, blindness, kidney disease and leg amputations.

The study, dubbed ‘alarming’ and ‘important’, was based on medical records of more than 318,000 type 2 diabetes patients

Study author Professor Kamlesh Khunti, co-director of the Leicester Diabetes Centre, told MailOnline of the importance of the findings.

He said: ‘Our findings should serve to reinforce to patients the importance of taking medications as prescribed, in order to avoid premature death and preventable admissions to hospital. 

‘This could lead to savings not only in terms of medications being prescribed and not used but also reduced hospital admissions and death.

‘It is plausible that efforts to improve adherence may prevent unplanned hospital visits and help to divert resources toward preventive medicine.’ 

Professor Khunti said this should be considered the ‘cornerstone of any successful public healthy policy in diabetes’. 

Oliver Jelley, editor of The Diabetes Times, told MailOnline: ‘As demonstrated by this research, there can be dramatic consequences if people do not take medications prescribed for type 2 diabetes.

‘The new findings, based on a huge amount of data, are alarming and important. They highlight the need for the problem to be addressed urgently.’

The review of eight trials comes after official figures last month showed that diabetes drugs are costing the NHS almost £1 billion a year.


Some 52 million prescriptions were written out last year and this number has almost doubled in a decade, NHS Digital figures show.

GPs are now spending a tenth of their medicines budget on diabetes drugs as well as devices so patients can check their blood sugar.

Just over 3 million patients in England have diabetes so these latest figures suggest they are an average of 17 prescriptions each.

In reality, patients with severe diabetes will be on many more medications while those with only mild forms won’t be taking any drugs at all.

Experts said the rise in prescriptions was a reflection of the soaring number of cases of diabetes, which has been driven by obesity. 

After scouring previous studies, the researchers found that patients are 28 per cent more likely to die if they skip their daily drug doses.

They also showed that those who skip on taking their medication can expect more avoidable hospital visits. 

The study, published in the Diabetes Care journal, revealed that 37.8 per cent of type 2 patients do not take all of their medication.

Such sufferers can expect to rely on over five different drugs each day, including sulfonylureas, meglitinides and thiazolidinediones.

The researchers said that a lack of support and warnings given to patients about potential side effects are to blame for the findings.

They hinted that such behaviours by doctors is leading to an increase in medical problems and higher costs to the NHS. 

Professor Melanie Davies, a co-author of the paper, told MailOnline that results could be used to ‘curb the effects of the diabetes epidemic’.

She said: ‘It is important to help people to understand how their drugs work and why they should take them.

‘This may increase the likelihood of people taking their medication regularly.’ 

The study was supported by the NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre and NIHR CLAHRC East Midlands.


Worldwide, there are believed to be around 380 million sufferers. In Britain this has topped 3.8 million, a figure that continues to rise.

The World Health Organization issued a warning to say the world is facing ‘a growing diabetes epidemic of potentially devastating proportions’ in 2004. 

Since 1996, the number of people living with diabetes has more than doubled. The rapid escalation remains of great concern to health bodies.

Type 2 diabetes is caused by having too much glucose in the blood because the body’s way of turning it into energy is not working properly.

As the condition progresses, sufferers often need to maintain a healthy diet, exercise and a combination of medications to manage it.

Controlling blood sugar levels are also considered to be the key to reducing the risk of life-changing complications for those already diagnosed.

Someone’s life expectancy with type 2 diabetes is likely to be reduced as a result of the condition, by up to 10 years, it is believed. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk