Objectives: Type 2 diabetes is the main cause of end-stage renal disease in Europe and the United States. Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors slow down the progression of renal disease and, therefore, provide a renal-protective effect. The aim of this study was to assess the most cost-effective time to start an ACE inhibitor (or an angiotensin II receptor blocker in the event of cough) in patients with type 2 diabetes in Germany.
Methods: Three strategies were compared: treating all patients at the time of diagnosing type 2 diabetes, screening for microalbuminuria, and screening for macroalbuminuria. A lifetime Markov decision model with simulated 50-year-old patients with newly diagnosed diabetes mellitus was developed using published data on costs and health outcomes and simulating the progression of renal disease. A statutory health insurance perspective was adopted.
Results: In the base-case analysis, the treat-all strategy is associated with the lowest costs and highest benefit and, therefore, dominates screening both for macroalbuminuria and microalbuminuria. A multivariate sensitivity analysis shows that the probability of savings is 89 percent.
Conclusions: Patients with type 2 diabetes should receive an ACE inhibitor immediately after diagnosis if they do not have contraindications. The potential for cost savings would be even larger if the prevention of cardiovascular events were considered.
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