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Our top feature this month examines the controversy surrounding the popular type 2 diabetes drug, Rezulin. Should a medication that has demonstrated injury in some individuals be withdrawn from the market? Or, should we consider whether the benefits outweigh the risks?
Funding Well Spent?
In a second feature, we present data on how the National Institutes of Health (NIH) spent our tax dollars in 1997. Everyone agrees that it would be great to have even more money for diabetes, but here we look at how the money we already have for diabetes research is being spent. I've talked with one of this country's most talented islet researchers, Bernhard Hering, who can't even raise the few thousand needed to buy a pancreas for furthering his goal of a cure. In contrast, I look at the 318 million American tax dollars spent on diabetes research by the NIH, and I wonder if that money was spent correctly.
Also note that the money spent on research by the JDF ($31.5 million for research out of $75 million total revenue in 1997) and the ADA ($12.8 million for research out of $87 million in total revenue in 1997) doesn't hold a candle to the amount we fund through our tax dollars. Controlling that budget is where the real power lies.
How Does Your HbA1c Compare?
One of our research reports this month mentions a study conducted in France and Belgium, where only 33 percent of type 1 people obtained HbA1cs less than the DCCT-dictated 8%. This clearly demonstrates that good control of diabetes is not as easy as it seems.
Another research report explains how a seizure medication helped people with diabetic neuropathy. The company who manufactures the medication, however, says that they have no intention of petitioning the FDA to have this drug used for the treatment of diabetic neuropathy, but your doctor can prescribe it, if it is justified.
Mail-Order Insulin Controversy
We present two professional perspectives on the topic of shipping insulin through the mail. Our goal is to always give you both sides, so you can make up your own mind. Please call us if you have remarkable experiences with mail-order insulin.
When a Letter CAN Make a Difference
Ann Landers wrote back to us, saying that on February 12 she will print our letter we wrote to her (see page 4). I'm so proud that we were able to advocate acceptance for all people with diabetes, and for their freedom to test and inject in public.
Supporting the necessity of injections, our third feature this month contains a photo essay on taking an injection of insulin. Taking a shot takes courage and skill. This is something to be admired, not hidden. We hope to make the treatment of this disease appear "normal," even attractive.
Another right we have is access to proper health care, which we've summarized on page 14. Cut out this check list and bring it to doctor appointments. It tells you which tests you should be getting to keep you healthy.
Although it was too late to go into this issue, the January 13 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) covers Lilly's withdrawal of its standard beef-pork insulin.
I was gratified to see another medical journal finally take up an issue that we have always covered, because our readers demanded it. I still maintain that it is not fair to take away someone's medicine.
What can be done? Call the FDA at (800) 332-1088, and try writing other medical journals or contacting your government officials. Tell them that at least two other insulin companies make the animal insulins we need. BioBras in Brazil and CP Pharmaceuticals in the United Kingdom are both eager to sell insulin here in the States, but do not yet have FDA approval. Tell them that you want a "fast-track" approval for these companies to distribute their insulin here. We need access to these supplies.
Hello to you from the publisher's desk. We hope that you enjoy this month's injection.
Feb 1, 1999
Diabetes Health is the essential resource for people living with diabetes- both newly diagnosed and experienced as well as the professionals who care for them. We provide balanced expert news and information on living healthfully with diabetes. Each issue includes cutting-edge editorial coverage of new products, research, treatment options, and meaningful lifestyle issues.