This morning Becton Dickinson (NYSE:BDX) announced results for the New York City BD Diabetes Makeover Program. According to a press release issued by the company; “The New York City participants completed the intensive 11-week portion of their program on Saturday, June 24, 2006. All participants realized a significant decrease in blood glucose values as measured by A1C in a 3-month period of time and experienced a trend toward normalization of weight and a reduction in some lipid values (which are used to measure cholesterol levels). All of these changes are usually associated with a reduction in risk for diabetes complications.”
While companies continue to spend millions on developing new drugs and devices to help people with diabetes, one of the most effective methods for controlling diabetes, namely patient education, continues to be woefully under-funded. The BD program is not the first program to demonstrate the value of patient education. In fact Diabetic Investor is not aware of any study or program that stresses patient education that has failed to achieve better patient outcomes. However, the Street and many of the companies in the diabetes sector continued to be fascinated with technology or new drugs. Lost here is the fact that no matter how good a device or drug may be a key to solid control is an educated patient.
Worse still is the fact that when patients receive education compliance increases. Simply put, armed with this education patients check their glucose levels more frequently and follow their treatment regimen more closely. The problem has always been that companies cannot prove a direct correlation between capital spent on patient education to increased sales of their particular product or drug. Take for example the glucose monitoring market which has seen a dramatic technological improvement. While checking glucose levels cannot yet be considered completely painless, the process has improved dramatically. Today’s monitors and test strips require miniscule amounts of blood, offer quick test results, have loads of memory and the ability to download data to the patient’s and/or physician’s computer. Yet with all this advanced technology testing frequency has barely budged and remains well below recommend levels.
There’s an old saying that states if you give a man a fish you feed him for a day yet if you teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime. Sadly, Diabetic Investor sees lots of fish being given away and too few poles.