Background: Recent study in the tertiary hospitals in Nigeria showed that prevalence of diabetes mellitus (DM) is on the increase. With this increase, the prescription volume of anti diabetic drugs, morbidity and ultimately mortality rates are expected to assume an upward trend especially in regions of the world like Nigeria where healthcare services are suboptimal for the rapidly expanding populations.

Aim To determine the outpatient utilization of anti diabetic drugs in south-eastern Nigeria.

Methods This prospective cross-sectional study was undertaken for 20 weeks between July 2008 and November, 2008 in the three tertiary hospitals which were randomly selected. All prescriptions issued to patients attending endocrinology clinic during this period following each day?s consultation were copied out from the case files and recorded in case record forms. Cost of the prescribed drugs was obtained from drug price list of the hospital pharmacies.

Results Oral hypoglycaemic agents (OHAs) ((15.21 DDDs/1000 diabetic patients) /day) were 4.5 times more utilized than insulin (3.4 DDDs/1000 diabetic patients /day). Among OHAs, Biguanide (Metformin) was the most utilized (11.3 DDDs/1000 diabetic patients /day), it was likely to be prescribed to diabetic patient daily compared to Sulphonylureas (Glibenclamide, Chlorpropamide) and Thiazolidinediones (Rosiglitazone) with 3.8 DDDs/1000 diabetic patients /day and 0.09 DDDs/1000 diabetic patients) /day respectively.

Conclusion Metformin was the most utilized anti-diabetic drugs and the costs of anti-diabetic drugs were high in the southeastern Nigeria. Government should come up with appropriate policies such as free health care for diabetic patients, subsidies for anti-diabetic drugs and finally low import tariff for anti-diabetic drugs. All these measures will reduce the provocative high cost of anti-diabetic drugs in the zone.

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