Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is an important health problem in Latin America, particularly in Brazil and Mexico, which respectively have the fourth and sixth largest populations of people with diabetes in the world [
]. In 2014, the prevalence of T2DM in South and Central America was 8.1 % (24.8 million patients) [
] and is projected to increase by 60 % (to 38.5 million patients) by 2035 [
]. This increase is partly caused by changes in diet and lifestyle, e.g., urbanization, an increase in the consumption of animal products and processed foods, and increases in patient body mass [
]. Moreover, only 36 % of patients with T2DM in Latin America and only 26 % in Brazil have a glycated hemoglobin level (HbA1c) at the recommended level of <7.0 % [
]. Considering the changing lifestyle and the increasing prevalence of T2DM in the region, current scientific evidence on insulin intensification strategies from global populations must be verified in a Latin American population.
As T2DM progresses, there is a decline in insulin secretory capacity such that, for most patients, treatment with insulin must be initiated to achieve the target HbA1c ≤7 % [
]. The Latin American Diabetes Association (ALAD) guidelines recommend initiating insulin therapy with a long-acting basal insulin analogue, such as insulin glargine, in combination with oral agents for patients who fail to achieve target HbA1c on oral agents alone [
]. Unfortunately, the long-term efficacy of basal insulin therapy alone is often limited [
], with less than 50 % of patients reaching target HbA1c, commonly due to excessive postprandial glycemic excursions [
]. Therefore, most patients with T2DM will require an intensification of their insulin therapy.
The ALAD guidelines recommend intensifying insulin therapy with a combination of 2 types of insulin [
]. To this end, there are 2 possible strategies for intensifying insulin therapy: switching to a premixed combination of long-acting and short-acting insulin administered twice daily [
] or continuing on basal insulin and adding rapid-acting insulin before meals [
]. There are few data directly comparing these 2 insulin intensification strategies in Latin American patients with T2DM inadequately controlled by basal insulin plus oral antidiabetic agents. This post hoc analysis of a multinational clinical trial compared the efficacy and safety of twice-daily insulin lispro low mixture (LM25) and once-daily basal insulin glargine plus once-daily prandial insulin lispro (IGL) in Latin American patients with T2DM who had not achieved target HbA1c on once-daily basal insulin glargine with metformin and/or pioglitazone.
This study was a post hoc analysis of a subpopulation of Latin American participants from a multinational, randomized, open-label, noninferiority, phase 4 clinical trial designed to examine the efficacy and safety of 2 insulin intensification strategies in patients with T2DM not adequately controlled on once-daily basal insulin glargine with metformin and/or pioglitazone [
]. The global study was approved by an independent ethical review board at each study site and was conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki, the International Conference on Harmonisation Good Clinical Practice standards, and all local laws and regulations in the study countries. The trial was registered with ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT01175824. All participants provided written informed consent.
In the global study, participants were enrolled at 55 study sites in Argentina, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Republic of Korea, México, Romania, Russian Federation, Spain, and Turkey. This post hoc analysis included data from participants who were enrolled in Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico).
The inclusion criteria were: age 18–75 years; a diagnosis of T2DM consistent with the World Health Organization Classification of Diabetes [
]; HbA1c 7.5–10.5 %; current regimen of stable doses of metformin (≥1500 mg/day for at least 8 weeks) and/or pioglitazone (≥30 mg/day for at least 12 weeks); a current stable regimen of once-daily basal insulin glargine for at least 90 days before screening; and fasting plasma glucose ≤121 mg/dL, determined by the central laboratory, or >121 mg/dL if the investigator determined further titration of basal insulin glargine was not possible for safety reasons. Exclusion criteria were: a screening body mass index >45 kg/m
; more than 1 severe hypoglycemic episode within 24 weeks before screening; and a history of using drugs contraindicated for use with the study drugs.
At the screening visit, demographic and clinical data were collected from all participants. Participants also underwent a physical examination and provided a fasting plasma glucose (FPG) sample for measurement in a central laboratory.
The trial treatment protocol has been described in detail previously [
]. Briefly, participants were randomized to receive subcutaneous twice-daily LM25 (insulin lispro low mixture; 75 % insulin lispro protamine suspension and 25 % insulin lispro solution) or IGL (once-daily basal insulin glargine and once-daily prandial insulin lispro), in addition to their stable dose of metformin and/or pioglitazone, for 24 weeks. LM25 was administered before breakfast and dinner. Insulin glargine was administered at bedtime. Insulin lispro was administered before the largest meal of the day. The largest meal of the day was defined as the meal with the highest 2-h postprandial blood glucose concentration and was determined during the screening period. LM25, insulin glargine, and insulin lispro were administered using 100 U/mL prefilled pens.
The primary efficacy endpoint was the change in HbA1c from baseline to week 24. The secondary efficacy endpoints were the percentage of participants reaching the HbA1c target levels <7.0 and ≤6.5 %, the change in FPG concentration from baseline to week 24, 7-point self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG) profiles at baseline and week 24, glycemic variability at week 24 [as measured by the standard deviation (SD)] in 7-point SMBG profiles, daily total, basal, and prandial insulin doses at week 24, and change in body weight at week 24.
Safety endpoints included treatment-emergent adverse events (TEAEs), and the incidence, rate, and severity of hypoglycemic episodes. In addition, participant satisfaction with insulin treatment was measured using the insulin treatment satisfaction questionnaire (ITSQ) [
]. Participant perceptions about the acceptability and effectiveness of diabetes medications and perceived adverse effects were measured using the perceptions about medications-diabetes 21 (PAM-D21) questionnaire [
]. Total scores on the ITSQ range from 0 to 100, where 100 indicates complete satisfaction with insulin treatment. Subscale scores on the PAM-D21 range from 0 to 100, where higher scores indicate better perceptions about diabetes medications.
The intent-to-treat (ITT) and safety populations were both defined as all randomized participants who received at least 1 dose of study drug. Efficacy and health outcome endpoints were analyzed using the ITT population. Summary statistics were calculated by treatment group for all endpoints. Due to the relatively small sample size, no statistical comparisons were made between treatment groups.
To our knowledge, this is the first report to disclose results from a Latin American subpopulation in a study comparing a twice-daily premixed insulin regimen with a once-daily basal insulin plus once-daily prandial insulin regimen in patients with T2DM not adequately controlled on insulin glargine with metformin and/or pioglitazone. One important aspect to highlight is the inclusion of patients ‘failing’ on insulin glargine plus oral medication, defined as FPG <121 mg/dL with high HbA1c, meaning that prandial intensification was likely needed. In these patients, further titration of insulin glargine may increase the risk of hypoglycemia. While we did not make any statistical comparisons in this post hoc analysis due to the limited sample size, numerical improvements in HbA1c after 24 weeks, likely to be clinically relevant, were observed with both LM25 and IGL. Our approach is consistent with the ALAD guidelines for intensifying insulin therapy in patients with HbA1c >7.0 % and our results suggest that both LM25 and IGL can be effective for lowering HbA1c in Latin American patients with T2DM who have blood glucose levels not adequately controlled on oral agents and basal insulin.
The reduction in HbA1c levels after 24 weeks of treatment experienced by both groups in the Latin American subpopulation is consistent with, and numerically higher than, the trial-level results in participants of various countries and ethnicities, which showed LM25 to be noninferior, and subsequently superior, to IGL with respect to glycemic control as measured by the change in HbA1c over the 24-week treatment period [
]. In keeping with the primary efficacy finding, improvements in secondary efficacy outcomes, including the proportion of participants who achieved HbA1c targets and SMBG, were also observed in the 2 study groups in the Latin American subpopulation. The secondary efficacy outcome results are also consistent with the trial-level findings [
Our observation that FPG increased and HbA1c decreased from baseline in both treatment groups appears somewhat paradoxical. This phenomenon was numerically greater in the LM25 group. Findings from a previous study suggested that the relative contribution of postprandial glucose to HbA1c increases as glycemic control improves, whereas the contribution of FPG increases as diabetes worsens [
]. Based on FPG, the patients in this study were already optimized on glargine, therefore, the benefit was most likely due to the postprandial component with both intensification strategies.
We observed a trend for numerically lower blood glucose concentrations before lunch in the LM25 group compared with the IGL group. This difference in before-lunch blood glucose was also observed at a numerically lower level in the trial-level results [
]. Interestingly, in another study (DURABLE), Hispanic participants had significantly lower postprandial glucose after breakfast compared with the Caucasian participants [
]. Patients in Latin America vary with respect to the timing of their main daily meal. LM25 was administered before morning and evening meals in both our study and the DURABLE trial, regardless of when the main meal was consumed. Administering LM25 and then consuming a small meal, or a meal with high levels of dietary fiber or a low glycemic index at breakfast time, as is common in Argentina, could account for the lower blood glucose concentrations observed in Hispanic and Latin American participants [
]. Conversely, consuming only breakfast and dinner, as is common in Mexico, may also result in low blood glucose during the day; however, administering LM25 at breakfast and dinner in this situation could be appropriate. Importantly, a recently published subanalysis of the trial-level results demonstrated that glycemic control improved in patients receiving either LM25 or IGL, regardless of the timing of the main daily meal [
Despite the lower blood glucose concentrations before lunch with LM25 and the general concern that premixed insulin may increase the risk of hypoglycemia [
], we found that, while the rates of hypoglycemia in the Latin American subpopulation were numerically higher than those observed in the trial-level population [
], both the incidence and rate of hypoglycemia during the study were similar between the 2 study groups. It is important to note that these similar rates of hypoglycemia were observed in the context of a 0.5 % difference in HbA1c. Only 1 participant experienced severe hypoglycemia and this did not result in a discontinuation. The numerically higher overall rate of hypoglycemia may be explained by specific dietary patterns, exercise habits, or cultural practices in the Latin American population. It is also notable that the mean insulin dose was numerically higher in this Latin American population compared with the trial population [
]. This higher dose may have contributed to the numerically higher rates of hypoglycemia observed in this analysis.
We also found that participants in the LM25 group gained more weight over the 24-week treatment period than participants in the IGL group. This trend was also observed in the trial-level results (LM25 = 1.13 kg, IGL = 0.50 kg) [
]; however, the difference between treatments was more pronounced in the Latin American subgroup. One reason for this may be that patients can overeat to avoid hypoglycemia, particularly in cases where a frugal breakfast is eaten, which is often the case in Argentina and Brazil. Our finding of increased weight gain with LM25 should be considered within the broader context of improved glycemic control and the absence of specific recommendation for the management of diet and exercise in the management of weight in patients with T2DM [
]. The numerically higher insulin dose observed in this Latin American subpopulation compared with the trial-level population [
] may also have contributed to the weight gain observed in this analysis.
This subanalysis of a multinational study has a number of strengths, including the prospective, multisite, multicountry, randomized design and the Latin American study population, which permits the exploration of the efficacy of insulin regimens in patients with varied meal patterns. As with most clinical trials of insulin, our study also has a number of limitations including: the post hoc nature of the analysis and open-label design of the study; the fact that the 2 insulin regimens used different injection devices and had different dosing requirements; the fixed distribution of doses at breakfast and dinner, which may have been better given at different times in some regions; and the relatively small sample size in each of the 3 Latin American countries. The study was not powered to compare the ethnic subgroups within the study population and, therefore, no statistical comparisons were made between groups. The differences in prescribing practices, dietary habits, and clinical guidelines among Latin American countries mean that the results of this post hoc analysis may not be generalizable to other Latin American countries.
All authors participated in the interpretation of study results, and in the drafting, critical revision, and approval of the final version of the manuscript. AR (Angel) was involved in the study design and AR (Arturo), GS, and JLG were investigators and were involved in data collection. RD was involved in statistical analysis. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
DB and JM are employees of Eli Lilly do Brasil Ltda. RD is an employee of Eli Lilly and Company. BL is an employee of Eli Lilly Interamerica Inc. OS is an employee of Eli Lilly and Co. AR (Angel) is an employee of Lilly Spain. DB owns equity in Eli Lilly do Brasil Ltda. AR (Angel) owns equity in Lilly Spain. JLG, GS, and AR (Arturo) have no competing interests to declare.
This study was sponsored by Eli Lilly and Company, manufacturer/licensee of insulin lispro low mixture and insulin lispro. Medical writing assistance was provided by Elise Magatova, Ph.D. and Luke Carey, Ph.D. of ProScribe–Envision Pharma Group, and was funded by Eli Lilly and Company. ProScribe’s services complied with international guidelines for Good Publication Practice (GPP3).
Eli Lilly and Company was involved in the study design, data collection, data analysis, and preparation of the manuscript.