What People with Diabetes Really Want

Gretchen Becker Health Guide
  • A US company has announced that they've produced metformin chewing gum that can be used in preliminary clinical trials.

     

    The announcement is, of course, designed to make their stock go up. So they emphasized how terribly difficult it is for people to take metformin pills:

     

    "Despite the fact that it is the most prescribed drug for Type 2, there are still millions who do not use it because of a variety of factors, including gastrointestinal side effects, large pill size and bitter taste (especially in the burgeoning population of children with Type 2 diabetes)."

     

    Does "large pill size" really keep a lot of people from taking metformin? Regular metformin pills are fairly small. It's only the extended-release ones that are on the large size, about the same as calcium pills. I can see that the size might be a problem for small children, but for adults? Come on!

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    If the chewing gum does reduce the gastrointestinal side effects of metformin, that might be a reason to use it.

     

    But I wish companies producing products for people with diabetes would stop thinking that it's pricking our fingers or giving ourselves shots or having to take large pills that is the worst part of diabetes.

     

    It's not.

     

    This attitude led to the invention of inhaled insulin, which was supposed to save people with diabetes from "painful insulin shots." It proved to be a gigantic flop. Turns out those shots aren't so onerous after all, and the inhaled insulin was much less accurate.

     

    The worst part of diabetes is not the shots or the finger pricks. It's having to pay attention to what you eat and what exercise you do 24/7. For people on insulin, the bad part is always worrying that you'll go low. For overweight people with type 2, the bad part is the constant nagging by health professionals to lose weight, as if you hadn't been trying to do that for most of your life.

     

    For parents, the bad part is constant worry that your child will go low and you won't know it.

     

    For people of all types, there's the constant worry that high blood glucose levels will lead to serious complications like heart attacks or loss of eyesight.

     

    Who cares if the pills we take are large and bitter! What we want is more physicians who are informed about this disease and are able to inform us so we really understand the pros and cons of all the pills we take.

     

    Who cares about having yet-another brand of meter in 24 different stylish designer colors. What we want is accuracy.

     

    Who cares about having to prick our fingers to learn what our blood glucose levels are. What we want is enough blood glucose testing strips or access to accurate continuous monitors that give the whole picture, not just occasional snapshots.

     

    Who cares about having to give ourselves shots of insulin. We don't want new methods of getting insulin into our system. We want a cure.

Published On: May 19, 2008