BACKGROUND: Once a disease of developed countries, type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) has become widespread worldwide. For people with T2DM, achievement of therapeutic outcomes demands the rational and quality use of medicine.
AIMS: The primary aim of this study was to examine the prevalence of diabetes and prescribing patterns of anti-diabetic medications in Australia and Malaysia.
METHODS: The most recent, publicly available, statistical reports (2004-2008) on the use of medicines published in Australia and in Malaysia were evaluated. Defined daily doses (DDDs/1,000 population/day) were derived from the reports and used to rank and compare individual drug use.
RESULTS: There was an increasing trend in the prevalence of diabetes in Australia, although there is a greater predicted increase in prevalence for Malaysia. While drugs used for the treatment of diabetes were not the most highly used drugs in Australia, their use increased during the study period, from 42.64 to 48.61 DDD/1,000/day. Anti-diabetic drugs were the most frequently dispensed class of drugs in Malaysia. Although the total consumption of anti-diabetic drugs in Malaysia decreased between 2006 and 2007 (from 40.30 to 39.72), this was followed by a marked increase to 46.69 in 2008. There was a marked reduction in the dispensing of insulin in Malaysia from 2004 to 2007 (7.77 to 3.23).
CONCLUSION: The use of drugs to treat diabetes does not reflect the usage patterns found in Australia. Effective drug use reviews are required to ensure impartial access in middle- and low-income countries.