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Open Access Research article

The prevalence and ingredient cost of chronic comorbidity in the Irish elderly population with medication treated type 2 diabetes: A retrospective cross-sectional study using a national pharmacy claims database

Miriam O’Shea*, Mary Teeling and Kathleen Bennett

Author Affiliations

Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Trinity Centre for Health Sciences, St James’s Hospital, James’s Street, Dublin 8, Ireland

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BMC Health Services Research 2013, 13:23  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-23

Published: 16 January 2013

Abstract

Background

Comorbidity in patients with diabetes is associated with poorer health and increased cost. The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence and ingredient cost of comorbidity in patients ≥ 65 years with and without medication treated type 2 diabetes using a national pharmacy claims database.

Methods

The Irish Health Service Executive Primary Care Reimbursement Service pharmacy claims database, which includes all prescribing to individuals covered by the General Medical Services scheme, was used to identify the study population (≥ 65 years). Patients with medication treated type 2 diabetes (T2DM) were identified using the prescription of oral anti-hyperglycaemic agents alone or in combination with insulin as a proxy for disease diagnosis. The prevalence and ingredient prescribing cost of treated chronic comorbidity in the study population with and without medication treated T2DM were ascertained using a modified version of the RxRiskV index, a prescription based comorbidity index. The association between T2DM and comorbid conditions was assessed using logistic regression adjusting for age and sex. Bootstrapping was used to ascertain the mean annual ingredient cost of treated comorbidity. Statistical significance at p < 0.05 was assumed.

Results

In 2010, 43165 of 445180 GMS eligible individuals (9.7%) were identified as having received medication for T2DM. The median number of comorbid conditions was significantly higher in those with T2DM compared to without (median 5 vs. 3 respectively; p < 0.001). Individuals with T2DM were more likely to have ≥ 5 comorbidities when compared to those without (OR = 2.82, 95% CI = 2.76-2.88, p < 0.0001). The mean annual ingredient cost for comorbidity was higher in the study population with T2DM (€1238.67, 95% CI = €1238.20 - €1239.14) compared to those without the condition (€799.28, 95% CI = €799.14 - € 799.41).

Conclusions

Individuals with T2DM were more likely to have a higher number of treated comorbid conditions than those without and this was associated with higher ingredient costs. This has important policy and economic consequences for the planning and provision of future health services in Ireland, given the expected increase in T2DM and other chronic conditions.

Keywords:
Comorbidity; Type 2 diabetes; Pharmacoepidemiology; RxRisk V index; Ireland; Ingredient cost; Elderly