By Faith Ashmore, Benzinga
A study conducted by the CDC projects a potential 700% increase in the number of people under the age of 20 diagnosed with type 2 diabetes by2060. A substantial widening of racial and ethnic disparities is also projected as America grapples with a growing healthcare crisis driven, in part, by skyrocketing diabetes treatment costs fueled by the ‘Ozempic craze’ and the urgent need for comprehensive, accessible care. Today, diabetes is the most expensive chronic condition in America, with estimates suggesting that $1 out of $4 in healthcare is spent on diabetes.
The Ozempic Craze
The rising popularity of GLP-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1s) is a significant development in the field of diabetes and weight management. GLP-1s, such as liraglutide (Victoza) and semaglutide (Ozempic), have gained attention for their effectiveness in improving blood sugar control, promoting weight loss and potentially reducing the risk of cardiovascular events in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Advancements like this have unquestionably transformed the landscape of diabetes management, but it has not been without its financial (among other) implications. As more individuals turn to GLP-1s for effective blood sugar control, the costs associated with its use have garnered significant attention. Patients often find themselves grappling with high out-of-pocket expenses, as insurance coverage may not fully mitigate the financial burden. The medication's price tag, while reflective of its cutting-edge technology and effectiveness, is straining healthcare budgets.
Nonetheless, it's essential to acknowledge that GLP-1s are not a panacea and that there are limitations and potential dangers in relying solely on these medications to address the complex issues of diabetes and obesity. While many experience weight loss and improved blood sugar control, some may not respond as well, or they might encounter side effects that make the medication less suitable for them.
The temptation to view GLP-1s as a "magic pill" that negates the need for lifestyle and other changes is a growing concern among many in the medical community. Not only are these drugs indicated to be used as an adjunct to lifestyle modification, but ensuring patients adopt sustainable dietary modifications, increase physical activity, and prioritize adequate sleep, among other factors, remains integral to the safety and efficacy of the GLP-1s themselves, and for effective diabetes management overall.
Utilizing Technology To Address Behavioral Root Causes
Despite advances in pharmacotherapy, there remains a pressing need to revolutionize the approach to diabetes treatment. Better Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: BTTX) was founded with a vision to create software that guides patients in addressing the behavioral and lifestyle-related root causes of diabetes and cardiometabolic diseases. To make this vision a reality the company developed a groundbreaking form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which is accessible via a patient's smartphone. The safety and efficacy of this approach were tested in multiple clinical studies, and AspyreRx became the first FDA-authorized therapy delivering CBT via software for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Rooted in the belief that behaviors can be learned and transformed through systematic techniques and interventions, AspyreRx offers a personalized experience to support patients in making meaningful and lasting behavioral changes to enhance their diabetes management. Delivered digitally, AspyreRx helps overcome many of the traditional limitations with in-person CBT, as a patient can access the treatment at their convenience.
Better Therapeutics recently shared promising findings from a subgroup analysis from their clinical trial in type 2 diabetes. The analysis looked at a subgroup of approximately 160 participants who were already using GLP-1s as part of their diabetes treatment. The results showed that when AspyreRx was added to their treatment regimen, there was a significant improvement in their clinical outcomes compared to those who did not use AspyreRx.
One of the key findings was that compared to participants using a GLP-1 and receiving standard of care treatment, the participants who used both AspyreRx and GLP-1 medications experienced an average reduction in HbA1c (a marker of blood sugar control) of 0.7% within 90 days. This reduction was higher than the results seen in the overall trial population, where AspyreRx performed better than the standard of care treatment by 0.4%. These differences were statistically significant when compared to the control group.
Not only did the participants using both AspyreRx and GLP-1 medications show improvements in HbA1c levels at day 90, but they also experienced greater weight loss and needed fewer medications at day 180 compared to those who were only using GLP-1 medications. These additional benefits further support the effectiveness of AspyreRx in managing type 2 diabetes.
The data from this subgroup analysis are now being submitted for peer-reviewed publication, which will add to the growing body of evidence supporting the use of AspyreRx in improving outcomes for individuals with type 2 diabetes.
Making Healthcare More Accessible
Beyond the clinical benefits, prescription digital therapeutics like AspyreRx hold promise in addressing health disparities and enhancing access to healthcare. They have the potential to reach and positively impact diverse populations, including those most vulnerable to diabetes, thereby helping to mitigate the looming healthcare crisis and reduce the burden of this widespread chronic condition on individuals and healthcare systems.
Better Therapeutics’ innovative product and its clinical data, including this latest subgroup analysis, seem to have propelled the company into the conversation about the quickly evolving treatment landscape for diabetes and other cardiometabolic diseases.
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