Excitement & Caution

An old friend writes to me from Germany: “I had no idea there was so much to say about diabetes!” Neither did I, honey. Neither did I!

But I have found that looking at the world with a diabetic’s eye view — as I now do — there is much to get excited about, like for example: San Francisco may become home to headquarters for a new world-class Stem Cell Research Institute. Wow, revolutionary regenerative research could be happening right here in my own backyard!! Maybe I’ll get the chance to be part of a pioneering study!But then again, maybe I don’t want to be part of a pioneering study -– because it’s always best to exercise caution when it comes to brand new drugs and treatments. It usually does take several years at least to recognize any long-term negative effects. See Corante’s “The Price of Desperation” for the AstraZeneca Iressa case of a drug that was praised to the skies and later fell flat, dashing hopes of patients and investors alike.

Which was my point, by the way, in previous posts about Symlin, the new drug from Amylin, just approved by the FDA last month. Now I understand this drug did go through extensive clinical trials, and that it has been helpful to a number of patients in avoiding postprandial highs (jumps in BG after eating), but it is certainly NOT a “new paradigm” in diabetes care.

(Note that the term “new paradigm” has been horrifically abused, by the way; it was meant to infer something that truly turns the world –- or at least human thinking –- on its ear).

With regards to Symlin, a number of people have written to me, some of them irate that I dared to doubt this exciting new drug. I am of course delighted to hear that it helped some people lower their A1c levels and lose weight. But all the medical professionals I’ve queried agree: if you’re not desperate, or a diabetic trying to get pregnant, for example, it’s best to WAIT, and not “jump on the Symlin bandwagon” until the drug has proven itself a valuable and safe tool over the long-term. Some believe it already has. I hope they are right.

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4 Responses

  1. Living With Diabetes
    Living With Diabetes May 2, 2005 at 6:36 am | | Reply

    She’s learning :-)

    I’m glad she’s learning to take the news announcements with major grains of salt. I get sick to death of friends telling me about the latest thing … which I’ve known about for 6 months, know of people on email…

  2. birdwoman
    birdwoman May 2, 2005 at 12:55 pm | | Reply

    You’re so right about the new drug thing. Any time a drug is made to target a group of people who have complications, health wise, it has a much higher chance of being withdrawn. Think of the weight loss drugs…

    (*)>

  3. Peggikaye
    Peggikaye May 2, 2005 at 11:28 pm | | Reply

    I completely agree with you. While I am not going to judge someone who is willing to jump right on the bandwagon and immediately try a new drug, I’m not going to be one of them.

    I am going to be sitting back and watching ..waiting … things can be bad enough without a new unknown drug risk making them worse.
    (I am not diabetic, but I am autoimmune insulin resistant)

  4. San Francisco Click
    San Francisco Click May 3, 2005 at 7:49 pm | | Reply

    Do you want to know why San Francisco was picked up as a Stem Cell Research Hub? Here is the San Francisco Virtual Tour: http://www.virtuar.com/ysf2/

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