National Diabetes Month

National Diabetes Month

As everyone in the diabetes business knows November is National Diabetes Month, so get ready for an onslaught of news stories and promotional efforts tied to this fact. Although we’re just one day into the month the Diabetic Investor inbox is chalk full of these stories and promotional efforts linked to National Diabetes Month. Rather than take the traditional approach and we wouldn’t be Diabetic Investor if we did, let’s examine the state of diabetes from a different perspective; Are patients with diabetes better off today than they were a year ago?

On balance Diabetic Investor believes that patients with diabetes are NOT better off today than they were a year ago, however there is hope looking forward. It’s difficult to state that patients are better off when there are far too many patients who are not properly controlling their diabetes combined with the fact that diabetes continues to grow at epidemic rates.

It’s equally difficult to claim patients are better off when organizations such as the American Diabetes Association, American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation cannot agree on treatment protocols or the actual definition of what good control is. It distributes Diabetic Investor that these organizations continue to work apart and not together, truth is the turf wars between these organizations must end if we are ever to see progress.

While industry has little, if any, control over the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there is no question the FDA at this point is part of the problem. It’s clear to Diabetic Investor that the FDA has lost its way and strayed from their mission of using evidenced based science when making decision on new diabetes drugs and devices. The harsh reality is due to the FDA actions, or should we say inactions, patients are being denied drugs and devices that would help them more effectively manage their diabetes. That the agency is clueless as to what a patient with diabetes goes through each and every day of their lives. Until industry begins a constructive dialogue with agency this situation is unlikely to change.

The reality is the FDA is really no different than a for profit company, in that, they don’t respond well to criticism. Granted there is much that can and should be criticized however criticism alone won’t get the job done. While Diabetic Investor isn’t sure if it’s possible for the agency and industry to come together and have an open and frank discussion about what needs to be done; Diabetic Investor does believe the attempt should be made.

Industry must also do a better job of understanding the needs of patients.  This fascination with advanced technology is perfect example of how industry fails to grasp what’s going on in the real world. As Diabetic Investor has noted on several occasions we have no problem with advanced technology and actually believes that when used properly this technology can and will lead to better patient outcomes. However, technology by itself will NOT accomplish anything if the patient doesn’t use or can’t afford this technology. Technology is only as good as the patient who’s using it.

The same can said for drugs as far too many companies are developing me-too, copycat drugs that really do nothing more than create confusion in marketplace. Is it really necessary that there are three DPP4 inhibitors on the market? Or that there are three short-acting insulin’s which all do the same thing the same way?  Have drug companies become so risk averse that they are unwilling to innovate? No matter what the regulatory environment it’s difficult to understand with the huge size of the market why drug companies are not spending more time and resources on innovative new therapy options. Think of what this world would like if Steve Jobs had taken the path of least resistance.

Believe it or not, Diabetic Investor is actually optimistic as we look towards the future. Even with the many issues facing the market diabetes is no longer regulated to second trier status. Thanks in large part to past failures which has lead too diabetes becoming not just a healthcare but an economic crisis, a serious discussion has begun on how best to deal with the diabetes epidemic and the impact poorly controlled patients are having on our healthcare system and economy. For the first time diabetes education, the most effective tool for achieving better outcomes is part of this discussion.

While Diabetic Investor cannot pin point exactly when this change in attitude occurred, there is no question that everyone has awakened to the fact that drugs and devices alone will not improve outcomes. Topics such as medication compliance, long known to be a major factor in poor outcomes, also has a seat at the table. The fact is we can have the best drugs and devices in the world that become basically worthless when they are not used because the patient does not understand how or why they should be using them.

Diabetes still has a long way to go and the many issues facing diabetes will not go away overnight. Still there are reasons for hope and for the first time in recent memory Diabetic Investor actually believes there is room for optimism.  Everyone is beginning to understand a fundamental fact that when the interests of the patient come first everyone wins.