from the editor
At our absolute worst moments, some of us with diabetes compare the disease with being in a kind of prison – forever trapped, shackled by all kinds of medical devices and drugs and therapies, with no escape in sight. But those moments pass, and brighter days are soon with us. Suppose, however, someone with diabetes was in a real prison. How would that person fare? We get a glimpse of that in this issue’s logbook by Jim Hirsch, who discovered the abysmal conditions that a type 1 inmate in Kansas must endure. He has to take his injections several hours after his meals, and his doctor wanted to put him on metformin, a type 2 medication. I was outraged – as Jim explains, the prison is violating its own guidelines for managing diabetes – but was also heartened by the support this prisoner gets from his father and by his own resilience.
Last month, I talked about how the redesigned diaTribe website would hopefully offer a much improved way for our readers to find and read all they are looking for. But the fact is, our new website was never meant to be our only big change. We’re always looking for ways to improve diaTribe, to make sure what we cover and how we write about it align with what you, our loyal readers, want and need to know. That’s why we would be grateful for your participation in our upcoming diaTribe readers’ survey, which will offer a quick and easy way for you to give us the feedback we need to keep diaTribe evolving into the best possible publication it can be. This is our first readers’ survey in two years, and if the previous survey – which led us to expand our coverage of early stage drugs, improve our search function, and write more test drive pieces – is any indication, we are going to learn a lot from what you have to say. We’ll be sending you an email invite for the survey soon – please keep a look out for it.
Perhaps the biggest news this month is the FDA’s approval of Vivus’ obesity drug Qsymia, formerly known as Qnexa. This is now the second month in a row that the FDA has approved an obesity drug after thirteen years of waiting, and Qsymia has the strongest weight-loss data we’ve seen to date. Here at diaTribe, we believe Qsymia is going to make it easier for people who are truly serious about losing weight, but we would emphasize that it isn’t designed as a cure-all to replace diet and lifestyle changes. Nobody understands this point better than Dr. Arya Sharma, the Chair of Obesity Research and Management at Edmonton’s University of Alberta. In this month’s diaTribe dialogue, Dr. Sharma speaks forcefully about the importance of weight-maintenance, the social and scientific stigmas surrounding obesity, and what Qsymia could mean for patients looking to control their obesity.
I’m not aware of any documentaries about diabetes, so I was quite excited to learn of Jenny Mackenzie’s efforts to bring “Sugar Babies” to the screen. This will be a groundbreaking documentary on the epidemic of both type 1 and type 2 in children. Please see our story in new now next to see how you can help.
Finally, I’d like to briefly mention one of this month’s more inspiring stories. On July 22, Chicago Cubs great Ron Santo was posthumously inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Generally considered one of the ten greatest third basemen to ever play the game, Santo is of particular note because he played his entire fifteen-year career with type 1 diabetes. Playing in the ‘60s and early ‘70s, Santo was forced to hide his medical condition for fear that public knowledge might end his career. This meant hiding his insulin injections from teammates, limiting his in-game medications to candy bars and orange juice, and gauging his glucose levels often based on nothing more than intuition and experience. And yet, despite all these difficulties, he reached the absolute pinnacle of his sport. His Hall of Fame induction speech, delivered by his widow Vicki Santo, has been lauded as one of the most moving ever heard at Cooperstown and goes into powerful, eloquent detail about the challenges he overcame – for a really inspiring few moments, watch the speech here.