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No Magic Pill to Cure Diabetes

May 07, 2014

I was reading an article in our local newspaper about the new drug which cures Hepatitis C.  Great news! It also happens to be a pill, not injection, that you take for only 12 weeks.  More good news!  Now for the bad news, the cost is in excess of $80,000 for the treatment.  With the vast numbers of people who have Hepatitis C, the issue now becomes who is “worthy” of receiving the drug. The article goes on to mention that insurance companies will most likely have to develop some way of determining who gets this new miracle drug due to the high cost.  This sounds similar to the old ethics boards of the 1970s and ‘80s…

This brings to mind a conversation I have almost weekly during my diabetes class.  While discussing medications, almost invariably someone will state, with great conviction, “You know, there is a cure for diabetes.”  When I ask them to explain, they usually say they read an article – most likely on the internet – that there is a cure, but the pharmaceutical companies do not want it released because they make SO much money off of diabetes. “It would put so many of the drug companies out of business that they do not want it known.”  The rest of the class listens with rapt attention – nodding in agreement.  When this pronouncement is completed, they all look to me for my comments.  I usually say something along the lines of being careful with what they read on the internet – to be sure that there is a credible source for the information and like their mother always told them – “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

I also tell them that I agreed that there is a potential “cure” for diabetes.  Although some people will not call it a “cure,” at least it is means to normalize their blood sugars.  I can usually tell that I have their attention at this point.  I remind them to keep their appointments with their care providers because if they are not seeing their MD, NP, PA, CDE, they cannot take advantage of this “cure.”

Then I mention EAT LESS and MOVE MORE.  It’s been shown to be just as effective, if not more so, as many of our drugs that are available for treating diabetes.  I can tell by the looks on their faces this is not the answer they wanted to hear.  Most are looking for that “miracle pill” that helps them lose weight and improve physical abilities while allowing them to eat as much as they want.  The good news is – this miracle treatment is available to most all of our patients and at a fairly low cost. No need to even get the insurance companies involved. 

So why is it still so difficult to get patients to “buy in?”

Have a great summer and hope to see you at the 2014 AADE Annual Meeting in Orlando!

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