Taking a cue from Kevin, M.D., here’s an “at-a-glance” roundup of my take on some news of the day:
1) Dr. Rob reports on the importance of a physician’s opening remarks. “Saying the right things at the start will make the job much easier.” Ya think?! Nothing is worse than finally making it in to an endo visit only to be greeted with some asinine remark, like the one KK reported last week. Of course, being a primary care physician, Dr. Rob says “I don’t really want my patients to ‘come here often.’” We PWDs have no choice, Buster.
2) This just in: Living Cell Technologies has announced positive results of Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials of its DiabeCell® implant treatment for people with insulin-dependent diabetes. “The cells are introduced into the abdomen of the patient in a simple procedure under local anaesthesia. The encapsulated DiabeCells do not require the use of immuno-suppressant drugs.” Early results at the six-month marker show a significantly reduced need for injected insulin. OK, so the results reported only reflect the experience of a handful of patients — and one of them, experiencing “personal social problems,” still needed to increase her injected doses. But nevertheless this looks hopeful. More hopeful than many of the long-shot cure concepts that make splashy headlines on a regular basis, I’d say.
3) Another implant therapy, but this one is just weird. A hospital in New York is now recruiting patients for a second national clinical research study of “an investigational implantable device” called the The Tantalus® System. It’s designed to Type 2 diabetics who are overweight and do not respond to current oral anti-diabetic treatments by “sensing naturally occurring electrical activity of the stomach in real time and automatically apply electrical stimulation when a person eats.” So it’s like internal shock therapy? The patient gets “buzzed” in the stomach while eating so they’ll immediately start feeling full? Sounds kind of like a “diabetic IUD” to keep the food from taking hold, possibly with all the same health risks — tissue perforation, infection, etc. Gross. Personally, I wouldn’t be willing to take the risk with any implantable device unless it actually did something to replace the lost function of my pancreas. Thoughts?
4) Diabetic Investor David Kliff reports on a test strip bidding war spurred by recent Medicare reimbursement cutbacks. Patients will see a up to
43% less reimbursement on mail order diabetic supplies. In order to stay competitive, test strip manufacturers are now trying to undercut each other to become the major suppliers to the likes of Wal
Mart, CVS and Walgreens, where btw, the lowest name brand product Kliff found was the Accu-Chek Active strips going for $29.34 for a box of 50. The problem is this cost-cutting will not be passed on to consumers. “The problem with the winning bidders is that 64% are
small suppliers with revenues of $3.5 million or less,” Kliff writes. “It’s unlikely
these smaller companies have the resources or sophisticated systems to process
orders cost efficiently and handle the additional burden of customer service… Rather than
encourage more frequent testing and patient education, CMS has done the opposite.
Once again the patient is the real loser here.” Why am I not surprised? I still think we need to create some kind of grassroots campaign to protest the ridiculously high cost of these mission-critical diabetes supplies. Ideas welcome.
5) Finally, another weird development. Did anyone notice that the AADE has put its patient-facing weblog on hold? Why? Due to lack of funding, they say. But how expensive can it be, really, for a national organization of this caliber to run a blog? I mean, they must have hundreds of CDEs out there who’d be willing to write something for the patient community for very little compensation. Too bad. Stay tuned on that one.
More quick looks at headlines in my Weekly Nuggets section, as always