OK, we've been doing fear all month... but this week's edition of our diabetes advice column, Ask D'Mine, is especially scary! Chills-down-the-back scary! I promise.  Have you met its host, type 1 PWD, diabetes author and community educator Wil Dubois?

Don't let him scare you off entirely this week ;)

{Need help navigating life with diabetes? Email us at AskDMine@diabetesmine.com}

  

 Lisa from Florida, type 3, writes: I'm a mother of a 14-year old girl with type 1 diabetes. Our healthcare system is truly unraveling because of Big Pharma and insurance companies.  I fear for my daughter's future because of it (and remain pessimistic that a cure will ever come because of the huge profits that come with diabetes treatment). So why can't we at least lobby for generic insulin that would be affordable to all?  With numbers of diabetes growing so big, we would be a mighty force to reckon with!

 

Wil@Ask D'Mine answers: Well, as to the cure, let me tell you my favorite scary Halloween story: The cure for diabetes probably has been found, no less than 13 times, even... So why on earth haven't we heard about it? Why the @#$%& are we all still shooting up insulin?

I can just picture the scene: John Q. Researcher, PhD, has just finished writing up his diabetes cure results and has emailed them to the New England Journal of Medicine. He has a good heart, but visions of glory and fame dance across the insides of his eyelids when closes his eyes. Then the phone rings. The Nobel Prize Committee would like to talk to him about his findings.

He can't believe his good luck as a jet-black stretch limo pulls up outside his ivory tower. The driver, in a black trench coat and mirrored sunglasses, holds the door open for him. In the back, an open bottle of champagne awaits. Oh, along with some... you know... overly-large-breasted party favors.

But after the limo whisks Dr. Researcher out of the city, something seems amiss. The airport is the other way. What's going on? The city falls behind as the limo roars out into the empty countryside. Dr. R is starting to get a little antsy, a little sweaty, but the bimbos pour him another glass of bubbly...

 

 

And suddenly the limo pulls sharply off the main highway and barrels down a dirt road. The sky is darkening now. A flash of lighting streaks across the horizon. The wind picks up and dry leaves blow and scatter in the wake of the limo.

Something is definitely wrong. Dr. R reaches for the door handle and finds it's been removed. He can't get out of the limo. There's no escape. He's trapped.

Dr. R has a date with the grim pharma reaper.

Yes, 13 times diabetes has been cured. And 13 times the researchers have been driven out and "deposited" into a corn field, and their research burned.

BOO!!!

OK, so I don't really believe that, but there're probably people who do. The real fact is that it's damn hard to come up with a cure for a disease when you can't even figure out what causes the frickin' disease in the first place. And thus far, the cause of your daughter's diabetes is rather ghost-like. Sometimes, during a full moon, researchers think they can see it... but then...

Money aside, trust me, a lot of good-hearted people are hard at work on a cure. Even so, I'm pessimistic that it will come soon, too. I don't blame greed for the lack of progress. I just think the obstacles are too large to overcome anytime soon.

I also think pessimism can be good medicine for our diabetes. If we live our lives like there will be a cure tomorrow, we'll be careless with our health, and pay a very high price indeed. If we live our lives like there will never be a cure, the worst that can happen is we'll be pleasantly surprised. And on that day I'll meet you and your daughter, along with the rest of the gang, down at the Krispy Kreme. Oh, and then I'll need to look for a new job. (I kinda think that under the circumstances, I'll have a hard time getting too upset about that.)

But you're right, there's a lot of money to be made on diabetes, and thank God for that. I bet you think I hit the bottle early today, huh? Nope. Here's how I run the math. Think how much more money Big Pharma can make if they can extend my life just one year. In just one year, think how many more test strips, how much more insulin, how many more CGM sensors, and how many more infusion sets I'll use. Oh, and it gets better. Just think how much more money they'll make if they can extend my life by five years? Or by a decade?

I'm a frickin' gold mine.

But guess what? While they're mining all that gold, I'm alive for my son. So you gotta keep these things in perspective.

As to lobbying for generic insulin... well, more on lobbying in a minute, but let me talk about insulin first. When a medicine goes generic, the formula becomes public knowledge. Yep, it would be just like if you could look up the Colonel's secret recipe on the internet. But making insulin is a lot harder than making fried chicken. Now I don't know exactly how much it costs to build an insulin manufacturing plant, but I'm pretty sure it's a long number with a lot of commas and zeros in it. Frankly, anyone who built an insulin plant to sell generic insulin would never recoup their investment. And actually, we kinda sorta have generic insulin already. The Wal-Mart ReliOn insulins are out-of-patent formulations that sell for about a quarter of the cost of the fancy-pants stuff we all prefer. (btw, it's made by Eli Lilly.)

Now, I loved your image of people with diabetes as a mighty force to reckon with. Let's think about that for a minute. The United Auto Workers have around a million members and have been known to make a few congressmen tremble in their boots (disclaimer: I'm a card-carrying member of the National Writers Union, which is actually part of the UAW). What're some other influential groups in our county? Oh, the National Rifle Association comes to mind, they have a little bit of political clout with around four million members.

But the official number of persons with diabetes this year is 25.8 million. If we voted with one voice we'd be second only to AARP (with their 40 million members) when it comes to political power and clout. A million-man march would look like a Sunday picnic compared to a 25-million diabetic march, don't you think?

And if we actually organized, and spoke, and voted, with one voice, we could practically be the only game in town—for two reasons. First, in 2010 around 90 million Americans turned out to the polls to vote. So, in theory, we could be about a quarter of the voting population. Oh, and if our loved ones also came to the polls with us, we could command half the vote. Or more.

And second, our cause, if narrowly focused on a limited number of diabetes-specific issues, is non-partisan. That's how Prohibition got passed in the

 

'20s. It was some groups that wanted the election focused on Prohibition and Prohibition alone. They supported politicians of both parties who favored the issue and they voted out anyone of either party who got in their way. I hate to compare the diabetes cause to anything as crazy as Prohibition, but if a freedom-loving country like ours was once taken over by a small group of highly focused fanatic people in this way, we could take a page from their playbook.

Maybe this Halloween, it's time to transfer some fear: from us to the people in Washington, D.C.

 

 

 

This is not a medical advice column. We are PWDs freely and openly sharing the wisdom of our collected experiences — our been-there-done-that knowledge from the trenches. But we are not MDs, RNs, NPs, PAs, CDEs, or partridges in pear trees. Bottom line: we are only a small part of your total prescription. You still need the professional advice, treatment, and care of a licensed medical professional.

 

 

Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For more details click here.

Disclaimer

This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.