First off, Happy Holidays, everyone! Here we are smack in the middle of Hanukkah and I’m getting nostalgic already. Was 2006 a big year for people with diabetes? I’d say so, yes. Although as a relative newbie (approaching my 4th anniversary of dx), I’m sure many of you have seen years that held at least as much promise for new treatments and potential cures, only to be “stuck in the realm of possibilities” for years to come. Still, I made myself a nice list of what I thought rocked the (or at least my) Diabetes World this year.
Making Treatment History.
2006 was the year that both Inhaled Insulin and Continuous Glucose Monitoring hit the prime time:
Pfizer’s Exubera hit the market with a… well, thud, sort of. That is, it was met with exhileration by the media, but the jury’s still out on long-term safety and patient reaction.
DexCom and Minimed actually shipped a fair volume of CGMS units, so that a number of us got a chance to try seeing “the whole movie” rather than a set of snapshots of our current blood glucose levels. Early models are still cumbersome, so users had some very mixed reactions. But the future looks bright.
Byetta has to have been the first diabetes product to make BusinessWeek’s Hottest Products list (OK, that was the end of 2005, but still a roaring success this year). Did you know they actually ran out of cartridges mid-year and had to open a new UK manufacturing facility in order to increase their capacity fourfold?
Patients are still lined up around the block to get ahold of Insulet’s award-winning new OmniPod tubeless insulin pump. With a wireless handheld controller that could pass for a PDA , it’s looking like the harbinger of a new era of convenient and unobtrusive (or at least much less obtrusive) insulin delivery devices.
The New York Times essentially changed the landscape of diabetes media coverage/awareness with its hard-hitting four-part series and ongoing coverage. Now the likes of Forbes and the Washington Post run regular diabetes feature stories, which is new. No need to hit people over the head with the urgency of this disease any more; its epidemic stature is clear.
As noted yesterday, diabetes has surpassed AIDS (!)
Stirring the Research Pot.
Denise Faustman vowed to move forward with her controversial research, betting her reputation on what many see as a longshot. With newly refreshed funding from mogul Lee Iacocca, she plans to begin human trials in 2007.
Faustman’s work didn’t look quite so far out this year, after researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) demonstrated the efficacy of a protocol to reverse of type 1 diabetes in diabetic mice — providing support to her much-critized theory. (Imagine the raspberry she gave critics!)
And to round off the year, just a few days ago, another breakthrough with diabetic mice: diabetes may be a disease of the nervous system, and not simply an autoimmune disease, as traditionally assumed. This could change and accelerate the path of research toward a cure! (A very good year for diabetic mice, at the least.)
Bloopers and Outtakes
Expensive glucose test strips became HOT, HOT, HOT on the black market. Really. Did you read about the armed and dangerous test strip thieves? Or about the counterfeit OneTouch test strips making the rounds this fall?
After a much hyped launch and highly promising research results, GlaxoSmithKline’s Avandia stumbled on side effects, ranging from weight gain to heart problems to bone fractures. “(Rival) metformin… should remain the first choice for most newly diagnosed patients with Type 2 diabetes,” experts said.
Here At Home.
I personally resolved to become an insulin pumper. By mid-2007. If it kills me. (Are you listening, Insulet?)
DiabetesMine.com was named one of the three most influential healthcare blogs at the recent Healthcare Blogging Summit in Washington, D.C. Honestly, I’m not sure what metric this is based on, but I’ve been grinning spontaneously for days. (You all made my mom very proud)
And did I mention that I wrote a book?!
* * *
Note that this list in no way presumes to be comprehensive. Why don’t you let me know what YOU all thought 2006 was good for