The ability of Western medicine to treat an epidemic of type II diabetes in America shows the gross incompetence of their collective profession. Granted, type II diabetes is a tough problem because it means the natural regulatory systems of the distribution and use of calories is broken. However, if doctors can't help solve tough problems then what good are they?
There is a tremendous amount of health care dollars at stake. And rather than having a strategy for fixing a difficult but fixable problem, the focus is on competing drug companies trying to get doctors to write prescriptions for ineffective drugs that change numbers on paper while oftentimes worsening the patient's health.
The safety and effectiveness of diabetes drugs are not rated based on their ability to actually solve the problem, rather on their ability to be better than some other treatment doctors commonly use - despite the fact that neither treatment works very well.
A case in point is a study published on line this week in the journal Diabetes Care (journal of the American Diabetes Association). The press release associated with the study proclaims "Physicians Bust Myths About Insulin." The goal of the study is to convince doctors to use insulin as a first line therapy in the treatment of type II diabetes. The study is funded by Nova Nordisk, a maker of insulin treatments.
"There is a myth out in the community, especially among certain ethnicities, that insulin is the last resort, and that somebody started on insulin is going to die," said Dr. Ildiko Lingvay, assistant professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern and lead author of the study. "We as physicians are responsible for teaching the patient that that's not the case."
Sure Dr. Lingvay - except it's not a myth.
In the 3 year study 24 patients on a combination of insulin and metformin gained less weight than 21 patients on metformin and two other blood sugar drugs. The insulin-using patients gained on average 10 pounds during the course of the study, whereas those on the combination of non-insulin drugs gained 15 pounds.
This study somehow makes logical sense to their industry so that it can be published in the primary journal that goes out to physicians treating type II diabetes. The study is a marketing piece for Novo Nordisk, masquerading as helpful science. However, the problem is far deeper than that. It is reflective of the overall gross incompetence in the field of Western medicine.
In the case of diabetes doctors are obsessed with lowering blood sugar numbers on paper - a symptom of the problem. Nowhere in their intellectually challenged minds do they ask where the sugar they are taking out of the blood is going - a 1st grade level question.
Answer - if it is going into fat, represented by patient weight gain, THEN YOUR TREATMENT IS AN UTTER FALIURE TO HELP THE PATIENT.
In this "study," both drug regimes are making the patients metabolically worse and neither one is any good - and that is the only message the study actually has to offer. However, the spin that gets to the doctor's office is quite different. It is intended to guide their Rx pad in the direction of insulin as a first line therapy.
By comparison, another study just came out this week published in the The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, a Norwegian study not funded by a drug company. It shows that the use of "insulin acutely stimulates leptin production and chronic insulin treatment is associated with elevated serum leptin levels and body weight in subjects with type 2 diabetes."
In other words, insulin is making leptin resistance worse which is a fast track to increased disease risk and earlier death in type II diabetic patients. Facts are facts. A type II diabetic is either gaining weight, staying the same, or losing weight. If such a patient is overweight or gaining weight they are not solving anything. People are not numbers on paper. Blood sugar is important to change - but changed in the context of the person actually becoming healthier, not changed for the sake of changing it with no attention to the actual damage being done.
This is one more study that clearly shows that drugs are not the answer to difficult metabolic problems. Earlier studies have also shown that the failure of Western medicine to improve this common health problem.
Now that the American public is so riled up about health care it won't be long before costs associated with the failure of medicine come front and center, especially when those costs are helping to make basic insurance for families unaffordable. While America may have the finest emergency care in the world and be on the leading edge of many treatments for difficult problems, much of what doctors do does not improve health and actually makes health worse.
It is high time for a paradigm change based on actually helping people be healthy, which would include programs for a full recovery from type II diabetes. And a lot of that will also rest on the personal responsibility of the patients themselves. The current model does not work and is very costly.