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No increase in new users of blood glucose-lowering drugs in Norway 2006–2011: a nationwide prescription database study

Hanne Strøm1*, Randi Selmer1, Kåre I Birkeland25, Henrik Schirmer34, Tore Julsrud Berg25, Anne Karen Jenum56, Kristian Midthjell7, Christian Berg1 and Lars Christian Stene1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pharmacoepidemiology, Division of Epidemiology, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, P.O.Box 4404, Oslo N-0403, Norway

2 Department of Endocrinology, Morbid Obesity and Preventive Medicine, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway

3 Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Tromsø, Hansine Hansens veg 18, Tromsø 9019, Norway

4 Division of Heart and Lung Disease, University Hospital of North Norway, Tromsø, Norway

5 Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

6 Faculty of Health, Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Science, Oslo, Norway

7 Department of Public Health and General Practice, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:520  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-520

Published: 29 May 2014



National estimates for the occurrence of diabetes are difficult to obtain, particularly time trends in incidence. The aim was to describe time trends in prevalent and incident use of blood glucose-lowering drugs by age group and gender in Norway during 2005–2011.


Data were obtained from the nationwide Norwegian Prescription Database. We defined prevalent users of “insulins only” as individuals having no oral antidiabetic drugs (OAD) dispensed from a pharmacy during the previous 24 months or in the subsequent 12 months. Incident users had no blood glucose-lowering drugs dispensed in the previous 24 months; incident “insulins only” users also had no OAD in the subsequent 12 months.


In 2011, 3.2% of the population had blood glucose-lowering drugs dispensed, and the incidence rate was 313 per 100,000 person years. The prevalence of OAD use increased from 1.8% in 2005 to 2.4% in 2011; however a decreasing trend in incidence of OAD use was observed, particularly in those aged 70 years and older. In 2010, 0.64% of the population had insulins only dispensed, with an overall incidence rate in the total population of 33 per 100,000 person years which was stable over time.


In this nationwide study, we found that although the prevalent use of OAD had increased in recent years, incident use was stable or had decreased. This may indicate that the increase in diabetes occurrence in Norway is levelling off, at least temporarily.

Diabetes; Blood glucose-lowering drugs; Incidence; Prevalence; Prescription database; Norway