Other advances could allow us to move from management of type 2 diabetes to true disease modification – slowing or halting the progression of the disease and forestalling the eventual need for insulin. And researchers are making progress on “glucose-plus” therapies that not only better control glucose levels but also address related aspects of cardiovascular risk.
To sustain this progress against diabetes, public policies – including cost-benefit analyses, reimbursement decisions, and prescribing guidelines – must enable and reward medical innovation.
Diabetes is a complicated, personal disease, and new medicines – even in an existing class – can improve the health of patients for whom available therapies are ineffective or hard to use. If prescribing or reimbursement rules force population-based standardization that neglects individual patient needs, then these potential new medicines will never reach many of the patients who stand to benefit from them.
It’s important to maintain the ability for doctors and patients to make informed choices from all available alternatives, and to let the market determine the value of new medicines – measured ultimately by how they work for patients.
At the same time, effectively managing diabetes requires more than medicine.
Patients need education and steady support to control this chronic disease – the face-to-face interactions in the doctor’s office are just the start. We must ensure the availability of health care resources to improve patients’ daily ability to live with diabetes.
The fact is, if we do these things, we can actually help hold down the enormous costs of treating diabetes, not to mention alleviating the suffering brought about by the long-term consequences of this disease.
With new medicines that improve individual patient outcomes, greater attention to helping patients manage their disease, and policies that encourage both, we can reduce the toll of diabetes even as we seek a cure.
We’ve already come a long way in the fight, and I’m convinced that future medical innovations will lead to more victories over this devastating disease.
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John C. Lechleiter, Ph.D., is chairman, president, and chief executive officer of Eli Lilly and Company , based in Indianapolis, Indiana. Previously, he served as Lilly’s president and chief operating officer. Lechleiter began work at Lilly in 1979. Prior to joining Lilly, Lechleiter earned a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from Xavier University and master’s and doctoral degrees in organic chemistry from Harvard University. He is a member of the American Chemical Society, Business Roundtable, and Business Council. Currently, Lechleiter serves on the boards of PhRMA; Nike, Inc.; United Way Worldwide; Xavier University; Fairbanks Institute (Indianapolis); Indianapolis Downtown, Inc.; and the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership.