In Glycemia Reduction Approaches in Diabetes: A Comparative Effectiveness Study (GRADE) (5,047 participants, mean follow-up 5.0 years), differences in glycemic control were demonstrated over time among four randomized therapies added to metformin. Weight gain and hypoglycemia are also important outcomes for people with type 2 diabetes. We compared the effects of the four randomized GRADE medications on a composite outcome incorporating glycemic deterioration, weight gain, and hypoglycemia.


The composite outcome was time to first occurrence of any of the following: HbA1c >7.5%, confirmed; ≥5% weight gain; or severe or recurrent nonsevere hypoglycemia. Secondary analyses included examination of individual components of the composite outcome, subgroup effects and potential mediators, and treatment satisfaction. Cumulative incidence was estimated with the Kaplan-Meier estimator. Cox proportional hazards models were used to assess pairwise group differences in risk of an outcome.


Risk of reaching the composite outcome (events per 100 participants per treatment year [PTYs]) was lowest with liraglutide (19 per 100 PTYs) followed by sitagliptin (26 per 100 PTYs), glargine (29 per 100 PTYs), and glimepiride (40 per 100 PTYs); all pairwise comparisons were statistically significant. The order was the same for risk of weight gain and hypoglycemia, but risk of glycemic deterioration was lowest with glargine, followed by liraglutide, glimepiride, and sitagliptin. No significant heterogeneity in risk of composite outcome was detected across prespecified covariates. Participants who reached the composite outcome had modestly but significantly lower treatment satisfaction.


Among participants treated with common second-line drug classes for type 2 diabetes, the liraglutide group had the lowest and glimepiride the highest risk of reaching a composite outcome encompassing glycemic deterioration, weight gain, and hypoglycemia. These findings may inform decision-making regarding type 2 diabetes therapy.

Clinical trial reg. no. NCT01794143, clinicaltrials.gov


A full list of the members of the GRADE Research Group can be found in the supplementary material online.

This article contains supplementary material online at https://doi.org/10.2337/figshare.24534463.

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