Curious About a Cure

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Did you know that if you “google” the word diabetes, the sponsored link that pops up at the top of the search page is the phrase “Diabetes and Pain”?

The link has something to do with diabetic nerve pain treatment, but it sounds like something Mr. T would say if he were the voice that tells you how easy it is for diabetic testing supplies to be delivered to your doorstep. (Unfortunately that is not Mr. T’s voice, it’s Wilford Brimley’s and that’s another novel. Zing!)

The page also contains a photo of an older couple holding hands while taking an autumn stroll in a park. It seems to encourage exercise and a somewhat healthy lifestyle for people with diabetes. It’s the classic photo that says “You can do this!” similar to how the Hair Club for Men commercials always had guys swimming and riding motorcycles because that’s what guys with fake hair want to do. It’s not long before you realize the page is actually an advertisement for a drug that can help ease the pain of nerve problems related to diabetes.

After looking at this Web page and letting it sink in for a while, I started thinking about how much money must go in to promoting the treatment of diabetes. With so many people affected by the condition and so much money to be made in its treatment, it’s crazy to think about how much money some pharmaceutical companies would lose if a cure were discovered. Right now, I buy the needles and syringes to take a morning injection, the insulin that goes in that syringe, the FlexPen that holds my fast-acting insulin, the needles that go with the FlexPen, the meter to check my blood glucose, the strips that go in the meter, the lancet needles that replace the ones that go with the finger-pricker that comes with that meter, the syringe of glucagon in case there’s an emergency, the glucose tablets to carry around…and that’s just me. I won’t even get into all of the pills, pumps, and inhalers that are on the market now or are coming soon.

I think Andy Rooney should do a 60 Minutes segment on all of the gizmos and gadgets that go into the treatment of diabetes. There’s so much money to be made on all of these products—how much do they really cost to produce? What is the markup on all of them? If anyone knows about research that has been done on this topic, please let me know. I bet the findings would be astonishing.

I don’t want to be too pessimistic here, and I realize that the majority of people with diabetes are Type 2. But when I think about the search for a cure for diabetes, I guess I just find it hard to believe that an industry so driven by the sell would ever really wholeheartedly go after something that made the sell obsolete. What do you think?

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