Letters to the Editor
Lilly Leaves Us With Fewer and Fewer Options
An article in the August 27, 2005, issue of The Indianapolis Star discusses Eli Lilly’s withdrawal of animal insulins from the market but does not address the fact that the insulin-using population has been manipulated to ensure that Lilly has a monopolistic stranglehold on the market.
Since the mid-1980s, Lilly has promoted its cheaply produced rDNA insulin, warning doctors and patients of the impending withdrawal of the older standard animal insulins. In addition, they have systematically withdrawn one animal insulin after another from the market. New diabetics, doctors and pharmacists don’t even know about animal insulin and its safety and efficacy, compared to the new stuff.
Without a true basis for comparison and with a manufacturer that essentially controls the marketplace, they can now say—after 20 years—that their rDNA insulin is “the most popular” or “the most used.”
That diabetics have, over the course of 20 years, been forced to “choose” between a couple of inferior products to manage their disease should have fully opened the media’s watchful eyes.
Understanding the Disease
I am a 23-year type 1 diabetic who was diagnosed at 16 years of age. I lived the first 8 to 10 years in (destructive) denial before realizing I was getting old very fast. I had early eye damage, elevated protein in the urine, some foot numbness and I felt tired and irritable much of the time.
In a moment of inspiration, I was able to step out of my blood-sugar haze and shift my focus to health and healing. For many years, the best I could do was play the blood-sugar-chasing game—chasing high blood sugars down with fast-acting insulin and bringing up the lows with sugary foods. My A1C numbers looked “excellent” in the 6% range, but in reality, my life was a mental, emotional and physical rollercoaster.
In my search for answers I actually went through medical school and studied everything I could find. The biggest step forward didn’t come from medical books but from a diabetic endocrinologist named Richard K. Bernstein. He was the first physician who taught me the true and specific actions of the injected insulins. Like many diabetics, I had been using insulin in the wrong way. This greatly contributed to what I call “the rollercoaster from hell.”
What has become clear in many years of study and treating diabetics is that the medical education about insulin is inadequate. Well-intentioned doctors prescribe insulin as they were taught, but their understanding of insulin and models of prescribing are flawed. Many times this results in flawed and much less stable blood-sugar control.
Ever since I learned how to use insulin, I have been able to maintain A1Cs in the low 5% range, without the rollercoaster. My quality of life has improved dramatically, and all of my complications completely reversed and healed. I am a much more healthy, happy and functional human being.
My biggest concern is the lack of understanding about insulins. We are in the process of losing a very safe, effective and underutilized human insulin, Ultralente. The production of “U” insulin has been stopped. Those of us who understand the unique needs of different diabetics are heartbroken by the flawed business choices that have been made by Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk.
Successfully living with diabetes requires ongoing work and personal education. Thank you, Scott King, Dr. Bernstein and the others who are trying to enhance understanding and evolution in diabetes care. Because of educational flaws on many levels, business choices are being made to the detriment to all diabetics. Your help is needed.
Steven K. Gordon, ND
Trial and Error—The Secret to My Dietary Success
I am a recent subscriber and a type 2 diabetic. I thought that I’d write about the way I’ve been eating ever since December 2004. I did not find the CDE, dietitian or nutritionist very helpful, because they were telling me things that just did not make sense. So, I have become my own dietitian and nutritionist, reading and studying, experimenting and constantly testing my sugars.
My primary sources are Robert Atkins and Richard Bernstein, and I recently came across Ron Rosedale’s book, which I find very interesting. My “bible” is “Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution” (2003).
My diet has evolved over the last nine months, and I will continue to refine it, but this is what has been working for me:
I have eliminated from my diet with very few exceptions grains (except for wheat bran and flax seed); beans (except black soy beans); flour, rice, starchy vegetables, potatoes (including yams and sweet potatoes); breads, cereals and pasta (even whole grain, with the exception of tortillas from La Tortilla Factory); fruits (no fruits, but I will try some blueberries and strawberries in the future); fruit juices (worse than fruits—processed sugar-water without the benefit of the fruit’s fiber), milk (I use heavy cream); anything with added sugars and anything with trans fats (hydrogenated oils).
I eat meat, fish, eggs, cheese and nonstarchy vegetables. I do not run from fat, except trans fats. I eat carbohydrates that are high in fiber and slow to raise blood sugars. I have a long list of acceptable foods, including certain nuts, raw or dry-roasted. I never eat carbohydrates without fat, and I try to maximize my monounsaturated fats and go easy on the saturated fats. I eat lots of green, leafy and other “safe” vegetables, but my daily carbohydrate consumption is low. While I record everything that I eat, I don’t count my carb grams, but I don’t consume more than 40 grams of carbs per day (after subtracting the fiber), and probably a lot less.
The results? My A1C has dropped from 9.7% in December 2004 to 5.1% in September 2005 (with the help of 500 mg metformin ER twice a day). For the last six weeks, my blood glucose averages have been less than 100 (last December, my fasting blood glucose was 239). My blood pressure has been normal since early January (with the help of 10 mg lisinopril daily); and my lipids have been more than normal since late February (with the help of 10 mg Zocor daily). I would like to see my HDL in the 60s, even though the current 54 is a big improvement over the 32 from last December. My weight has gone from 235 pounds to 160; my clothing size from XXL to medium; and my pants from size 46 to 34.
My next challenge is to drop a few more pounds, but more important, to maintain this weight loss and way of eating indefinitely.