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Why Treating Diabetes Keeps Getting More Expensive

Why treating diabetes keeps getting more expensive

Why treating diabetes keeps getting more expensive

Laura Marston is one of the 1.25 million Americans who suffer from Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disorder in which a person's pancreas can't make insulin. She hoards vials of the life-saving medicine in her refrigerator to protect herself from the drug's rising prices. (Jorge Ribas/The Washington Post)
At first, the researchers who discovered insulin agonized about whether to patent the drug at all. It was 1921, and the team of biochemists and physicians based in Toronto was troubled by the idea of profiting from a medicine that had such widespread human value, one that could transform diabetes from a death sentence into a manageable disease.
Ultimately, they decided to file for a patent — and promptly sold it to the University of Toronto for $3, or $1 for each person listed. It was the best way, they believed, to ensure that no company would have a monopoly and patients would have affordable access to a safe, effective drug.
“Above all, these were discoverers who were trying to do a great humanitarian thing,” said historian Michael Bliss, “and they hoped their discovery was a kind of gift to humanity.”
But the drug also has become a gift to the pharmaceutical industry. A version of insulin that carried a list price of $17 a vial in 1997 is priced at $138 today. Another that launched two decades ago with a sticker price of $21 a vial has been increased to $255.
[This 90-year-old fight over insulin royalties reveals just how much has changed in medicine]
Seventy-five years after the original insulin patent expired — a point at which drug prices usually decline Continue reading

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Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic Retinopathy

On this page: Diabetes and diabetic retinopathy • DR symptoms • Types of diabetic eye disease • Who gets diabetic retinopathy? • Minorities and diabetic eye disease • When is DR a disability? • Eye exam assistance program • Prevention • Diabetic retinopathy videos
Diabetic retinopathy — vision-threatening damage to the retina of the eye caused by diabetes — is the leading cause of blindness among working-age Americans.
The good news: Diabetic retinopathy often can be prevented with early detection, proper management of your diabetes and routine eye exams performed by your optometrist or ophthalmologist.
According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), the United States has the highest rate of diabetes among 38 developed nations, with approximately 30 million Americans — roughly 11 percent of the U.S. population between the ages of 20 and 79 — having the disease.
About 90 percent of Americans with diabetes have type 2 diabetes, which develops when the the body fails to produce enough insulin — a hormone secreted by the pancreas that enables dietary sugar to enter the cells of the body — or the body becomes resistant to insulin. This causes glucose (sugar) levels in the bloodstream to rise and can eventually damage the eyes, kidneys, nerves or heart, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include obesity, an unhealthful diet and physical inactivity. Unfortunately, the prevalence of obesity and type 2 diabetes has increased significantly in the United States over the past 30 years.
According t Continue reading

11 Tips to Protect Your Feet and Legs if You Have Diabetes

11 Tips to Protect Your Feet and Legs if You Have Diabetes

1 / 12 How Does Diabetes Affect Your Feet and Legs?
If you're managing diabetes, you may encounter problems with your feet and legs, two common complications of the disease. Diabetes puts you at higher risk for calluses, corns, bunions, blisters, and ulcers — and high blood sugar means these minor injuries and alterations may become gateways to potentially disabling infections.
But you can take several steps to help keep your feet in good shape, including wearing specialized footwear, having regular foot exams, and performing low-impact exercise.
Why does this complication occur in the first place? First, know that high blood sugar levels damage nerves. Researchers aren’t exactly sure how this damage happens, but they think that blood sugar may have a negative effect on the nervous system’s cells and enzymes, according to the Joslin Diabetes Center. These damaged nerves may lead to diabetic neuropathy, a condition in which you lose feeling in your feet or your hands.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, neuropathy occurs in about 70 percent of people with diabetes, and its symptoms can result in harmful infections. After all, if you can't feel your feet, you won't be able to notice cuts, sores, or pain. And if you can’t feel these irritations and wounds, they may lead to infection, and untreated infections can lead to gangrene, which in turn can require amputation.
Neuropathy is the cause of the dry skin experienced by many of those with diabetes: The disabled nerves in your feet can’t receive the brain’s message to Continue reading

Type 2 diabetes: What is the average age of onset?

Type 2 diabetes: What is the average age of onset?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 29.1 million people in the United States have diabetes.
The variations between individual diagnoses are too great for there to be an exact age of onset for type 2 diabetes. There is evidence, however, that the likelihood of developing the condition increases drastically after the age of 45.
Average age of onset for type 2 diabetes
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommend annual diabetes screening tests after the age of 45. But the age at which someone develops the condition depends on too many differing factors to accurately predict.
A wide mix of individual health and lifestyle factors can influence the progression of the condition. Many people have diabetes for years before being diagnosed, causing a large variation between the age of onset and age of diagnosis.
Meanwhile, some estimates claim that nearly one-third of those with diabetes do not know they have it, which further complicates estimates. And many national surveys and studies do not distinguish between rates of type 1 and 2 diabetes in adults.
According to the CDC, from 1997 through to 2011, the average age at which a person was diagnosed with diabetes in the United States was largely the same, at around 54 years of age.
While there might not be a set age for onset for type 2 diabetes, age greatly increases the chances of developing the condition.
In 2014, an estimated 4.3 percent of Americans over 20 years of age had diabetes, while 13.4 percent of those aged 45-64, and 11.2 percent of those aged 65 or older, had the condition.
A 2016 Continue reading

What Diabetes Costs You, Even If You Don't Have The Disease

What Diabetes Costs You, Even If You Don't Have The Disease

Diabetes is an expensive disease to treat, costing the United States $244 billion in 2012, according to an analysis of the disease's economic burden.
When the loss of productivity due to illness and disability is added in, the bill comes to $322 billion, or $1,000 a year for each American, including those without diabetes. That's 48 percent higher than the same benchmark in 2007; not a healthy trend.
The increase is being driven by a growing and aging population, the report finds, as well as more common risk factors like obesity, and higher medical costs.
For a person diagnosed with diabetes, the average economic burden was $10,970 a year. Caring for a pregnant woman with gestational diabetes cost $5,800 a year. Undiagnosed diabetes costs $4,030 a case, and prediabetes, or having abnormal blood sugar that doesn't met the diagnostic criteria for diabetes, $510. Those last two reflect the fact that people with undiagnosed diabetes or elevated glucose tend to go to the doctor more often.
Costs were generally higher in older people, not surprising since it can take years for the disease's more devastating complications, like heart attacks, blindness and nerve damage, to develop.
About 29 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 8 million of them haven't yet been diagnosed. Another 86 million, or 37 percent of adults, have prediabetes, which is more common as people age. And though the symptoms of gestational diabetes usually recede when a woman gives birth, both she and her child are at higher risk for Type 2 Continue reading

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