THE EVOLUTION OF THE DIABETIC INDUSTRY
I never knew my grandfather. He died in 1914 at the age of thirty-nine of what is now called Juvenile onset diabetes (Type 1). This was ten years before I was born.
In 1934, at the same age, my father was diagnosed with the same disease. I was nine years old at the time. The family doctor assured him that if he followed a rigid diet, (which allowed honey) he might survive. Obviously my father soon discovered that insulin was by now being used as a treatment for Diabetes mellitus. After talking to a diabetic doctor who knew a lot about diabetes he procured what he needed to carry on with his life as a diabetic. My sister, mother, and I watched as he set up his equipment in the dressing room next to the bathroom There was a tray container for boiling water to sterilize the 25 gage needles and syringe before every injection. At that time there was only one type of insulin which he took every morning. That was about it for supplies – none of the testing or frills that are available today. My mother followed detailed instructions on what he could eat or not eat and I remember helping with weighing or measuring his food. I especially recall her baking these horrible bran muffins with no sugar or additives. He was the only one that could stomach them. The family began taking evening walks together in various areas within driving distance where we often shopped for food we liked. He seemed to be happy with the fact that the rest of us could still enjoy eating his forbidden food. It was a tough struggle for a father in those days – raising a family through a depression, a son and daughter in the war. This, living in the fast lane during the roaring twenties, and the diabetes finally caught up with him in 1955 when he died of a heart attack a week after his sixtieth birthday.
I got married toward the end of my three and a half years of military service, in 1945. My first son was born in January, 1946 and my second a year later. My daughter, Sharon, arrived in August, 1951, At about this same time, because of a loosely knit cadre of capitalists, the ‘Diabetic Industry’ was both inadvertently and inchoately created,
When my youngest son, DJ, was about 13 months old (in March, 1948) my wife and I noticed that he was becoming listless, developing a bad facial rash, and urinating excessively. Even with a history of Type 1 diabetes in the family, our family doctor , just a month previously, had not tested for this. She stated that “babies never get diabetes”. When we could not arouse our son on March 19, my wife rushed him to the Emergency Room at our local hospital while I took a urine sample to my fathers’ office where our test indicated extremely high blood sugar. DJ recovered rapidly and we brought him home in eight days to start him on a life long routine of caring for this insidious, debilitating disease. At the time the cost of supplies seemed reasonable. For $15.00 we procured his basic diabetic requirements: protamin and zinc crystal insulin, 26 gage needles, 3 syringes, miscellaneous stuff. At this point our son became a contributor to the diabetic industry. Unfortunately this was also about the time when producing a new for-profit industry instead of an altruistic group dedicated to putting all money available into finding a cure for this new, but “manageable” disease seemed to be the only solution available. Establishing money as our “bottom line” for success leaves little room for humanitarianism to enter the equation.
In my search for answers I came up with some interesting statistics on the relationship between the money spent on basic research expended on finding an actual cure for diabetes and on the exploding costs of treating it, The only direct correlation I could find was in a study made by the government of Great Britain in 2010. This study indicated that out of a total cost for drugs and supplies of 600 million pounds the total cost of government “research into research into diabetes” amounted to only 50 million pounds, or 8.3 %. When the total cost of 9 billion pounds for treatment for diabetes and its related complications is added into total, the figure is about one half of one per cent devoted to research. Although there are some very worthwhile research projects going on both in the United States and Worldwide the half per-cent of the total for research seemed consistent with what I discovered elsewhere.
Both of my sons and I have endured the hardships of diabetes for many years now and I have become very cynical about the relatively small amount of money that has been devoted to an actual cure for diabetes.
This research, from my own experience, is not even to mention the extreme waste of perefectly good high priced cloned insulin and sharps (needles and lancets) necessitated by “Rules” put out by the manufacturers limiting the use of cloned insulin to 28 days after the first use of a 300 ml vial, the lack of a recycling program for the expensive pen needles, and the strict admonition by all to use sharps only ONE time. Adhering to this one rule would cost me over 500 dollars per year more. This is after my private insurance and Medicare have absorbed their part of the cost.
The Diabetic Industry is a true “for profit” industry and as such a cure will be hard to come by. Only time will tell.