Dealing with diabetes cost the USA $217.5 billion last year as prevalence of the disease continues to rise, according to a new report.

The latest figure, revealed in a National Diabetes Economic Barometer study, includes undiagnosed disease, pre-diabetes and other costs. The research shows that beyond the estimated $174 billion that is widely accepted as the cost of diagnosed diabetes in 2007, an additional $18 billion was spent on 6.3 million people with undiagnosed diabetes.

Furthermore, the $217.5 billion figure includes $25 billion for the 57 million American adults with pre-diabetes and $623 million for the 180,000 pregnancies where gestational diabetes is diagnosed. The NDEB study was conducted by The Lewin Group and commissioned by the National Program, an initiative set up by insulin specialist Novo Nordisk.

In individuals with pre-diabetes, “we observed a significant increase in ambulatory visits for a wide variety of medical conditions, including hypertension, endocrine, metabolic and kidney complications," said Tim Dall, vice president at The Lewin Group. Additionally, the data show that during the two years before diagnosis, “people exhibit an increase in ambulatory and hospital-based care for diabetes-related complications."

The study also noted that as the leading source of health insurance, covering about 158 million non-elderly people in America, “employers are beginning to feel the financial sting”. Dana Haza, senior director of the National Program, said that it is encouraging businesses to take action “to reduce the devastating economic consequences of this disease by learning about their workforce, engaging their employees, and making purchasing decisions that will encourage better health choices".

FDA liraglutide meeting put back
Meantime, the US Food and Drug Administration has informed Novo that the planned advisory committee meeting for the eagerly-anticipated diabetes drug liraglutide, a glucagon-like peptide-1 analogue which was filed with regulators on both sides of the Atlantic in May, has been put back.

The meeting, originally planned for March 2, has been rescheduled April 2 or 3. The agency had indicated in September that it would most likely have to extend the date of completing its assessment by a couple of months.

However, the FDA has informed Novo that it is still targeting the timeline of delivering an action letter by March 23.