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Defeat Diabetes
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Death from Diabetes will Change from 5th Leading Cause of Death to __?

Posted: Sunday, May 09, 2010

More than 70,000 Americans a year die from complications of diabetes, making it the country's fifth-largest medical killer. While that sounds dire, Novo Nordisk says the real picture is much worse.

That's why Novo Nordisk, the world's top supplier of insulin, lobbied to get a provision in the U. S. healthcare law that will push doctors to list diabetes more often as a cause of death. A higher toll means more public and private funding for treatment, detection and prevention.

Changing death rates due to diabetes from the fifth largest medical killer to possibly second or third will do a lot of things.

Improvement in reporting may lead to more revenue for research and drug companies with diabetes drugs in the pipeline. Doctors and coroners underreport the death tally from diabetes, Novo Nordisk says. Some 72,499 Americans were listed as dying from diabetes in 2006, according to the latest figures available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To get the death rate addressed in the new health law, Novo lobbied a number of U.S. Senators.

In coming months, regulations will spell out precisely how the new law will be applied. After that, when a patient dies from diabetes complications, such as a heart attack or a stroke, coroners and physicians will be encouraged to list diabetes on the death certificate.

Public health officials will consider the rising mortality data when they allocate research funds. States may also be required to publish reports on how they are improving diabetes care, and medical schools could be asked to improve training in this area, according to the law.

The new mandate may result in health systems paying more for diabetes treatment, compared with other health priorities.

In a telephone interview, Robert Anderson, chief of the CDC's mortality statistics branch said that by not listing diabetes as a cause of death, physicians "certainly underestimate the impact." According to the agency's data, diabetes is the fifth biggest killer in the U.S. after heart disease, cancer, stroke, and respiratory illnesses.

Only 68 percent of U.S. diabetics are diagnosed, according to the ADA and some 5.7 million Americans don't know they have the disease. As a result of the provisions, the diagnosis rate may climb to 80 percent by 2018. That, plus the increase in the total population of diabetics, may raise total U.S. sales of insulin and oral Type 2 diabetes therapies to $24.4 billion, from $10.3 billion in 2008, the consultant estimated.

Nobody dies from diabetes itself, but the complications are responsible for huge rates of morbidity and mortality.

Source:,, April 30, "Diabetes Death Watch Slipped Into Health Law by Lilly, Novo"

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