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15.12.2016 | Review | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

Diabetes Therapy 1/2017

Lack of Evidence to Guide Deprescribing of Antihyperglycemics: A Systematic Review

Diabetes Therapy > Ausgabe 1/2017
Cody D. Black, Wade Thompson, Vivian Welch, Lisa McCarthy, Carlos Rojas-Fernandez, Heather Lochnan, Salima Shamji, Ross Upshur, Barbara Farrell
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The online version of this article (doi:10.​1007/​s13300-016-0220-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Individualizing glycemic targets to goals of care and time to benefit in persons with type 2 diabetes is good practice, particularly in populations at risk of hypoglycemia and adverse outcomes relating to the use of antihyperglycemics. Guidelines acknowledge the need for relaxed targets in frail older adults, but there is little guidance on how to safely deprescribe (i.e. stop, reduce or substitute) antihyperglycemics.


The purpose of this study was to synthesize evidence from all studies evaluating the effects of deprescribing versus continuing antihyperglycemics in older adults with type 2 diabetes. To this end, we searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Cochrane Library (July 2015) for controlled studies evaluating the effects of deprescribing antihyperglycemics in adults with type 2 diabetes. All such studies were eligible for inclusion in our study, and two independent reviewers screened titles, abstracts and full-text articles, extracted data, and evaluated risk of bias. Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) assessment and a narrative summary were completed.


We identified two controlled before-and-after studies, both of very low quality. One study found that an educational intervention decreased glyburide use while not compromising glucose control. The other reported that cessation of antihyperglycemics in elderly nursing home patients resulted in a non-significant increase in glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C). No significant change in hypoglycemia rate was found in the only study with this outcome measure.


There is limited evidence available regarding deprescribing antihyperglycemic medications. Adequately powered, high-quality studies, particularly in the elderly and with clinically important outcomes, are required to support evidence-based decision-making.

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