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[IP] Letter to the Today Show

 Hi everyone,
I was surfingthe net when I ran across this letter that was sent ot the
Today Show on NBC.  I just thought I would post it here becuase it had lots
of good points to it.  Maybe some that could be used in letters to our reps.
for more diabetes funding.


Letter to NBC Today Show:

February 17, 2001

A Letter to the Today Show Regarding Their Feature on Diabetes which Aired
on February 7 and 8th

I am the publisher of a newsletter called Diabetes In Control.com that goes
out to over 10,000 medical professionals keeping them informed of all the
current information on education, treatments, drugs, studies, medical
devices, insulin pumps. We also provide studies for their patients to
participate in.

I am a pharmacist and a Certified Diabetes Educator and have private
practice of working with people with diabetes to improve their health and
prevent the complications from diabetes.

There are over 10,000 diabetes educators. They are Nurses, Dietitians,
Doctors, PhD's and Pharmacists who work to improve patient's lives.

I appreciated your taking the time to have a feature on diabetes on Feb.7th
& 8th but was very disappointed, with its inaccuracy and incompleteness.
Diabetes is an epidemic as you mentioned with a 70% increase in the 30 year
old range and a 30% increase in teenagers.  It is a serious disease that can
be devastating.

Your program was rushed through as just another news item and I was
disappointed that you left out the most important part of Diabetes Treatment
and Care, which is ... "EDUCATION"

You mentioned many different tools to help with diabetes such as meters,
insulin pens, short needles, etc, also you featured inhaled insulin, inhaled
insulin has not been released and will not be released probably until next

You did not take the time to show how simple it is to use a blood glucose
monitor.   You left out some very important tools to help with diabetes like
the fructosamine meter.  You only mentioned the continuous blood glucose
meter and did not explain what is does.

You neglected the different types of treatments with drugs and insulin's,
which are now available.  From 1950 to 1995 we only had one oral drug for
diabetes and from 1995 to 2000, 6 new drugs and 2 new insulins became
available.  Yet you neglected to mention any of them.  You mentioned that
people should exercise and eat properly, when you could have explained why!
Foot care was not mentioned, even though it is the leading cause for limb
amputation in the U.S.

There are approximately 16 million people in the US that have diabetes and
40% do not know that they have it and will not know for up to 12 years.
Twenty-five million people have Impaired Fasting Glucose and are on their
way to getting diabetes, and that needed to be mentioned.

You needed to discuss the Hemoglobin A1c test, which every diabetic should
have at least 4 times a year.  This test gives a 90-day average blood sugar
and tells how well they are doing with their diabetes.  The ADA states that
every patient who is a diabetic and not controlled in the normal ranges
should have it done 4 times a year, but only 20% of the patients receive the
test.  A normal HbA1c is 4-6% and a person with diabetes should have an
HbA1c of below 7%

Your program would have been much more informative had you interviewed a
diabetes educator, who is specially trained to work with patients with

You mentioned only briefly the signs of diabetes, prevention and screening.

But the most important part of diabetes care, "EDUCATION" !!!, was not even

You missed the only thing that can control diabetes over time and prevent
the complications of kidney failure, blindness, limb amputation, strokes,
heart attacks and death!

Diabetes cannot be controlled with only drugs as we have seen in the studies
and it cannot be controlled with all the devices you briefly presented on a
table for your audience.  Diabetes is a progressive disease, which will
always, get worse over time.

It has been shown that without empowering the patient to self-care, through
education, diabetes will worsen.   When a doctor writes a prescription for a
diabetes medication he knows it will fail over time.   Doctors, educators,
nurses cannot control a patient's diabetes!  The patient must control it!
The patient has to learn about their disease to control it.  The doctor is
not with the patient when they are not exercising, when they are not
watching their diet, when they are not monitoring their blood sugars.

The patient must be empowered with education to self manage their own
diabetes and it's important for patients to be good advocates for their own
needs -- make sure that they have screening tests for early complications
and that their blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels are well

 You could have brought to your viewers' attention that almost all patients
with diabetes should take an aspirin a day (if they're over age 21). It
prevents heart attacks and strokes.

 Medicare now pays for diabetes education, 38 states now have laws requiring
insurance companies to pay for education, meters and blood glucose strips.
You could have told your audience that if they have diabetes, to check with
the The American Diabetes Association (ADA) or the American Association of
Diabetes Educators (AADE)  to find out about their state's laws and how to
find a diabetes program or educator in their area.

The average blood sugar (HbA1c) in the US for diabetics is over 9%, (Normal
is below 6%).  Anything over 8 means that the diabetes is causing,
blindness, kidney failure and circulatory problems.    The studies (UKPDS
and DCCT Studies) have shown that if you keep your blood sugars in the
normal range, you can prevent the complications from diabetes by up to 78%.

There is no reason that with all the knowledge we have and all the
medications and tools available that anyone with diabetes in this country
should have blood sugars above normal, yet 85% do.

I understand that you only had 10 minutes on two different days, but they
could have been spent more wisely.  I hope you will consider doing another
show on diabetes, but this time talk to a diabetes educator who works with
people with diabetes everyday.

I tell diabetic patients that they are lucky to have diabetes, because by
the time they finish working with a diabetes educator, they will be
healthier then 99% of the people in their age group.  We can help them to
control their blood sugars and prevent the complications through education.

There have been so many advances over the last five years that it's hard for
patients as well as health-care providers to keep up with the most recent
advances. To help keep medical professionals and patients current we have
put together a diabetes newsletter and website at www.diabetesincontrol.com

Thank you for listening to me and please consider doing another feature on
the importance of education in controlling the complications from diabetes.


Steve Freed, R.Ph., CDE, Publisher

Dave Joffe, R.Ph., Cph., Editor Diabetes In Control.com

800-798-6972   email @ redacted
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