Glucagon Prescribing and Costs Among U.S. Adults With Diabetes, 2011–2021

Joseph R. Herges, Rodolfo J. Galindo, Joshua J. Neumiller, Herbert C. Heien, Guillermo E. Umpierrez, Rozalina G. McCoy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To characterize contemporary trends in glucagon fill rates and expenditures in a nationwide cohort of adults with diabetes overall and by key demographic and clinical characteristics. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS In this retrospective cohort study, we examined 1) glucagon fill rates per 1,000 person-years and 2) patient out-of-pocket and health plan costs per filled gluca-gon dose among adults with diabetes included in OptumLabs Data Warehouse between 1 January 2011 and 31 March 2021. RESULTS The study population comprised 2,814,464 adults with diabetes with a mean age of 62.8 (SD 13.2) years. The overall glucagon fill rate decreased from 2.91 to 2.28 per 1,000 person-years (222%) over the study period. In groups at high risk for severe hypoglycemia, glucagon fill rates increased from 22.46 to 36.76 per 1,000 person-years (64%) among patients with type 1 diabetes, 11.64 to 16.63 per 1,000 person-years (43%) among those treated with short-acting insulin, and 16.08 to 20.12 per 1,000 person-years (25%) among those with a history of severe hypoglycemia. White patients, women, individuals with high income, and commercially insured patients had higher glucagon fill rates compared with minority patients, males, individuals with low income, and Medicare Advantage patients, respectively. Total cost per dosing unit increased from $157.97 to $275.32 (74%) among commercial insurance beneficiaries and from $150.37 to $293.57 (95%) among Medicare Advantage beneficiaries. CONCLUSIONS Glucagon fill rates are concerningly low and declined between 2011 and 2021 but increased in appropriate subgroups with type 1 diabetes, using short-acting insu-lin, or with a history of severe hypoglycemia. Fill rates were disproportionately low among minority patients and individuals with low income.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)620-627
Number of pages8
JournalDiabetes care
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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