Friday, January 27, 2006

New advancements in the treatment of diabetes

Only last summer, I was asked to participate in a study of a new drug that was in the testing stage: inhaled insulin. I didn't participate in the study, but because I'd been contacted about it I was familiar with the concept. This evening I saw headlines in both the Washington Post and the New York Times: one brand's inhaled insulin has been approved.

It's an amazing advancement for the treatment of diabetes, of course. However, after reading the articles, I'm not so sure I'd want to be on it. First of all, the articles both site injections as "highly painful." Wait a sec. Have these diabetics been getting the same injections that I have? It's not like in the old days, when insulin had to be injected directly into the vein. These days, insulin needles come as small as 33 gauge (or smaller), which is so tiny I don't even feel it the vast majority of the time. Second of all, the insulin is a dry powder. I don't know about you, but the idea of inhaling powder doesn't appeal to me much. I think I'd rather stick with shots I can't feel anyway. And third, testing has shown that use of inhaled insulin tends to decrease lung capacity. Do I sense a double standard here? One of the reasons smoking is bad for you is the decreased lung capacity, yet it's okay in inhaled insulin? How do you figure???

No way, I'll stick with what alread does a good job of controlling my diabetes.

Of course, the articles cite the fact that many people, especially those with type 2, do not have good control over their diabetes...and they claim that it's because of "highly painful" injections. Well, I've already explained how unpainful injections really are, so where does that leave us? I'm sorry, but many type 2 diabetics have the disease because they are lazy. They don't eat right, they don't exercise, they don't take care of themselves....which is exactly why they don't have control of the disease, either. Maybe a treatment plan that enables them to get away with being lazy will work, but maybe not.

Another claim that these articles make is that the drug companies are hoping that inhaled insulin will appeal to the disproportionate number of diabetics who are also minorities. Ludicrously, the articles claim that minorities are less likely to learn about their condition, and therefore less likely to control it, yet somehow they're still going to somehow hear about this cool new drug. Does anyone else see the break in logic here? Oh...unless the drug companies advertise on TV, which they've become so fond of doing. Because obviously minorities are also more likely to watch TV.

(That last sentence was completely sarcastic. Please don't think I'm racist!!!)

Don't misunderstand my little rant - I'm not against advancements in medical technology, especially not one that will treat my own condition. However, I am rather appalled that this drug would be approved when it obviously has potentially dangerous long-term side effects. I am also disgusted by the assumptions that were made by a bunch of doctors who probably don't know what it's like to have diabetes anyway. With any luck, however, this advancement will lead to another, which will lead to another...and eventually, there really will be better ways of treating diabetes than injections.

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