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BACKGROUND: Current treatment guidelines do not provide recommendations to support the selection of treatment for most people with type 2 diabetes. We aimed to develop and validate an algorithm to allow selection of optimal treatment based on glycaemic response, weight change, and tolerability outcomes when choosing between SGLT2 inhibitor or DPP-4 inhibitor therapies. METHODS: In this retrospective cohort study, we identified patients initiating SGLT2 and DPP-4 inhibitor therapies after Jan 1, 2013, from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD). We excluded those who received SGLT2 or DPP-4 inhibitors as first-line treatment or insulin at the same time, had estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) of less than 45 mL/min per 1·73 m2, or did not have a valid baseline glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) measure (<53 or ≥120 mmol/mol). The primary efficacy outcome was the HbA1c value reached 6 months after drug initiation, adjusted for baseline HbA1c. Clinical features associated with differential HbA1c outcome on the two therapies were identified in CPRD (n=26 877), and replicated in reanalysis of 14 clinical trials (n=10 414). An algorithm to predict individual-level differential HbA1c outcome on the two therapies was developed in CPRD (derivation; n=14 069) and validated in head-to-head trials (n=2499) and CPRD (independent validation; n=9376). In CPRD, we further explored heterogeneity in 6-month weight change and treatment discontinuation. FINDINGS: Among 10 253 patients initiating SGLT2 inhibitors and 16 624 patients initiating DPP-4 inhibitors in CPRD, baseline HbA1c, age, BMI, eGFR, and alanine aminotransferase were associated with differential HbA1c outcome with SGLT2 inhibitor and DPP-4 inhibitor therapies. The median age of participants was 62·0 years (IQR 55·0-70·0). 10 016 (37·3%) were women and 16 861 (62·7%) were men. An algorithm based on these five features identified a subgroup, representing around four in ten CPRD patients, with a 5 mmol/mol or greater observed benefit with SGLT2 inhibitors in all validation cohorts (CPRD 8·8 mmol/mol [95% CI 7·8-9·8]; CANTATA-D and CANTATA-D2 trials 5·8 mmol/mol [3·9-7·7]; BI1245.20 trial 6·6 mmol/mol [2·2-11·0]). In CPRD, predicted differential HbA1c response with SGLT2 inhibitor and DPP-4 inhibitor therapies was not associated with weight change. Overall treatment discontinuation within 6 months was similar in patients predicted to have an HbA1c benefit with SGLT2 inhibitors over DPP-4 inhibitors (median 15·2% [13·2-20·3] vs 14·4% [12·9-16·7]). A smaller subgroup predicted to have greater HbA1c reduction with DPP-4 inhibitors were twice as likely to discontinue SGLT2 inhibitors than DPP-4 inhibitors (median 26·8% [23·4-31·0] vs 14·8% [12·9-16·8]). INTERPRETATION: A validated treatment selection algorithm for SGLT2 inhibitor and DPP-4 inhibitor therapies can support decisions on optimal treatment for people with type 2 diabetes. FUNDING: BHF-Turing Cardiovascular Data Science Award and the UK Medical Research Council.

Original publication




Journal article


Lancet Digit Health

Publication Date





e873 - e883


Aged, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Algorithms, Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2, Dipeptidyl-Peptidase IV Inhibitors, Hypoglycemic Agents, Retrospective Studies, Sodium-Glucose Transporter 2, Sodium-Glucose Transporter 2 Inhibitors, Clinical Trials as Topic