Newer medications offer more options for glycemic control in type 2 diabetes. However, they come at considerable costs. We undertook a health economic analysis to better understand the value of adding two newer medications (exenatide and sitagliptin) as second-line therapy to glycemic control strategies for patients with new-onset diabetes.


We performed a cost-effectiveness analysis for the U.S. population aged 25–64. A lifetime analytic horizon and health care system perspective were used. Costs and quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) were discounted at 3% annually, and costs are presented in 2008 U.S. dollars. We compared three glycemic control strategies: 1) glyburide as a second-line agent, 2) exenatide as a second-line agent, and 3) sitagliptin as a second-line agent. Outcome measures included QALYs gained, incremental costs, and the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio associated with each strategy.


Exenatide and sitagliptin conferred 0.09 and 0.12 additional QALYs, respectively, relative to glyburide as second-line therapy. In base case analysis, exenatide was dominated (cost more and provided fewer QALYs than the next most expensive option), and sitagliptin was associated with an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of $169,572 per QALY saved. Results were sensitive to assumptions regarding medication costs, side effect duration, and side effect–associated disutilities.


Exenatide and sitagliptin may confer substantial costs to health care systems. Demonstrated gains in quality and/or quantity of life are necessary for these agents to provide economic value to patients and health care systems.


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