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Thursday, 2 May 2013

Bad medicine: the way we manage diabetes !

I found this article by following links from the excellent Dr. John Briffa blog, as John says, Des Spence "has the independence of mind and balls to take a swipe at what we doctors do and the faults of the medical system" As readers here know John Briffa also has balls. We need more Doctors with balls !

From the BMJ  author Dr. Des Spence Published 29 April 2013

Type 2 diabetes is a modern plague largely brought on by lifestyle and is considered a progressive, non-reversible condition. The polypharmacy of chronic disease is the drug industry’s lottery win, and no more so than in diabetes, with new drugs and the increasing use of analogue insulin in type 2 diabetes worth tens of billions of pounds worldwide.1

The drug industry’s business plan for diabetes follows a familiar pattern:

(1) Conduct questionable research and control the original data.
(2) Schmooze the politicians, health regulators, and patient groups to suggest under treatment and need for “urgent action.”
(3) Recruit tame diabetologists, massage them with cash, and get them to present at marketing events that masquerade as postgraduate education.
(4) Pay doctors to switch to newer drugs in dubious international post marketing “trials.”2
(5) Seek endorsement from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence to bully doctors to treat diabetes aggressively with drugs.3

And so the complexities of diabetes are reduced to simply lowering blood sugar.

What is the annual cost of pursuing this reductionist, drug based approach? In the past decade, spending on insulin in the UK has risen 300%, to £311m4 (€356m; $463m), and on oral diabetic drugs 400%, to £277m. And have you ever wondered why companies generously give away glucose meters? Test strips are a £166m market, the value of which has risen 300% in 15 years.4 Factor in staff time (when not attending more educational updates sponsored by the drug industry) and the patient and family’s time, and you have a great but expensive business.

But do analogue insulins, new diabetic drugs, and self monitoring of blood glucose improve outcomes? Does even tight glycaemic control make a difference? No data on mortality or morbidity exist for the new therapeutics.5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Likewise intensive glycaemic control is not superior with respect to mortality and cardiovascular disease.12 So billions of pounds are being spent chasing a ghostly surrogate endpoint: low blood sugar. Worse, there is evidence that these new drugs cause harm. Rosiglitazone has already been withdrawn; pioglitazone has been linked to bladder cancer; and exenatide and sitagliptin double the risk of acute pancreatitis.13 14 All this is an example of the scientific illusion that is so called evidence based medicine, where research is just mechanically reclaimed statistics pulped into junk educational nuggets—mere marketing by another name.

There remains another fundamental question. Can diabetes be reversed or cured by weight loss? A small, well designed study of 11 patients irrefutably showed that it can.15 And clinical effect is more important than any statistically significant yet clinically undetectable effect that a huge study funded by the drug industry might find. The therapeutic approach in diabetes is upside down. Incredibly, spending on diabetes drugs could employ 40,000 personal trainers. The complicity of doctors and lack of dissent against the drug model of diabetes care is bad medicine.

Source of information here.

Dr. Briffa blog here.



Anonymous said...

Very interesting to read this Doctor's views about the way diabetes is managed. Certainly opens the eyes to the huge amounts of money within the obesity and diabetes crisis, which with much better advice could be handled so very differently and with healthier outcomes to the health and well being of patients. Of course it would be detrimental to big pharma's health.


Lowcarb team member said...

Dr Spence is spot on to much emphasis is placed on drugs, diet and exercise is the first route touted by the NHS for diabetics but as that is doomed to failure due to the abysmal dietary advice increasing use of medications all to soon become the norm for the majority of diabetics.

Of course big pharma are more interested in profits.

"Are current clinical trials in diabetes addressing important issues in diabetes care?!


horfilmania said...

I sent Dr. Briffa's link to my boss who is very overweight and diabetic.

There is no diabetes in my family. We all knock off between 40 and 60 years of age from heart attacks and strokes, but you know what? I'm glad I'm not diabetic and having to follow the shitty advice they are given. Diabetics suffer more than anyone else from our modern conventional dietary advice. I see it all the time around me and it breaks my heart.

Lowcarb team member said...

Thanks Horf

See latest post.

Regards Eddie

Anonymous said...

Highly recommended read