To assess the efficacy of combination therapy with insulin and sulfonylurea in the treatment of NIDDM.
Studies published between January 1966 and January 1991 were identified through a computerized Medline search and by hand searching the bibliographies of identified articles. We identified 17 eligible randomized, controlled trials of combination therapy in NIDDM. These trials had a minimum duration of 8 wk and at least one of three outcome measures (fasting glucose, HbA1, or C-peptide) with SD or SE of the mean reported to do metaanalysis. With standardized forms, three independent reviews abstracted measures of study quality and specific descriptive information about population, intervention, and outcome measurements.
We calculated effect size and weighted mean changes of the three outcome measures for control and treatment groups. In the treatment group, the fasting plasma glucose decreased from a mean of 11.4 mM (206 mg/dl) at baseline to a mean of 9.16 mM (165 mg/dl) posttreatment, whereas the control group decreased from (11.3 to 10.8 mM) (204 to 194 mg/dl) (effect size 0.39, P < 0.0001). For HbA1, the treatment group decreased from a baseline of 11.0 to 10.2% compared to 11.0 and 11.2% in the control group (effect size 0.43, P < 0.0001). For fasting C-peptide, the treatment group increased from 0.49 to 0.58 nM (1.45 to 1.75 ng/ml) compared with 0.47 and 0.43 (1.42 and 1.30) for the control group (effect size 0.26, P < 0.017).
Combined insulin-sulfonylurea therapy leads to modest improvement in glycemic control compared with insulin therapy alone. With combined therapy, lower insulin doses may be used to achieve similar control. Obese patients with higher fasting C-peptides may be more likely to respond than others.