MedPageToday has an article on the “Bittersweet Diabetes Economy” talking about the cost of treating diabetes, pharmaceutical company influence on diagnosis and treatment of diabetes and prediabetes, and the unknown long-term effectiveness of diabetes drugs. Most of the article pertains to type 2 diabetes. A quote:
Last year, sales of diabetes drugs reached $23 billion [worldwide or U.S.?], according to the data from IMS Health, a drug market research firm. That was more than the combined revenue of the National Football League, Major League Baseball, and the National Basketball Association.
But from 2004 to 2013, none of the 30 new diabetes drugs that came on the market were proven to improve key outcomes, such as reducing heart attacks or strokes, blindness, or other complications of the disease, an investigation by MedPage Today and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved all of those drugs based on a surrogate endpoint: the ability to lower blood sugar. Many of the new drugs have dubious benefit; some can be harmful.
Another key outcome we don’t know about is prevention or postponement of death in type 2 diabetes via drug therapy.
Now you have some inkling of why I exhort my patients to maximize diet and exercise interventions before resorting to drugs, increasing drug dosages, or adding more drugs. (I’m not talking about type 1 diabetes here.)