The Power of One: The Story of Lee Ducat, Champion for Diabetes Research

May 23, 2010

Today, those with Type 1 Diabetes recognize Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International as a nonprofit giant that pumps continual funding into diabetes research. They have relied on and even joined forces with the Foundation for decades both to raise awareness for the disease and to receive key support in living with their condition. But 40 years ago, there was no Foundation and only a fraction of the organized support for people living with the disease.

So how did the organization get started? Would you believe it was one determined mother who kicked off the well-known organization with a cocktail party?

In 1966, U.S. mother Lee Ducat’s nine-year-old son Larry was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. After facing the initial shock and devastation of such news and learning to help her son manage the disease, Ducat eventually asked her son’s physician what she could do to help find a cure. He told her that a good deal more research needed to be done so that new treatments could be developed, or even better, a cure could be found. However, such research required much more financial support than was currently available, he told her.

Ducat began thinking about what she could do to meet that critical need. Not sure where to start, she threw a cocktail party in 1970 for a group of people with a stake in finding new treatments for the disease using a list of clients provided by her doctor. (Check out this great interview she recently did with Philadelphia Magazine’s Be Well blog).

About 60 people showed up to her party, everyone who came signed a makeshift membership application, and the Foundation was born. In the organization’s first year, Ducat and her members started other chapters and raised $10,000.The organization eventually became a 501(c)3 voluntary health organization.

From such humble beginnings, Ducat’s foundation has gone on to raise more than $1.4 billion for diabetes research since its inception and the organization continues to raise $100 million annually. The Foundation not only has a board of directors, but also a scientific advisory board. Today, the Foundation has 100 chapters, branches and affiliates located in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Denmark, India and Israel.

This year, recognizing the 40-year anniversary of the organization’s founding, I hope that we can look to Ducat for inspiration, and remember that one person can make a world of difference.

This guest post is contributed by Kitty Holman, who writes on the topics of Online Nursing Schools .  She welcomes your comments at her email Id:


Medtronic Safety Alert

May 12, 2010

Yes… that is the title of a letter I received from Medtronic Australia a few days ago. No wonder I instinctively reached for my pump and disconnected, even before reading the content of this “urgent” letter.

As it turns out, the supposedly important alert does not seem to be anything other than a simple clarifycation, probably made “urgent” by the need of Medtronic to cover any liability risk. Further to this, the letter is only related to the Continuous Glucose Monitoring capabilities of the Paradigm pump, so the amount of people potentially impacted is very small. Nevertheless all Paradigm users in Australia seem to have received the letter.

In October last year, Medtronic increased the lifespan of it’s sensors to 6 days instead of 3. While new pumps are programed for this change, everyone who got a pump a while ago is still faced with and “End of Sensor” message after 3 days.

The purpose of this latest message from Medtronic is to advise that “you should be aware of the following:

1.- The first sensor alert after 3 days of sensor use may be treated as an advisory reminding you that the sensor will need to be changed in a further 3 days”.

Is this a joke or what?

Ah!, and of course there is a subtle word or warning before the letter concludes:

“The sensor must not be used for more than 6 days as the accuracy of the sensor cannot be guaranteed”

Hmm… let me think… isn’t that the case for the whole life of the sensor.

I think Medtronic should pay more attention to communications with its consumers if they are to live to the expectations of being leaders in that market.


Diabetes Idol

April 9, 2010

Very often we talk about famous people who share with us the experience of life with Type 1 Diabetes. This time I found that one of the competitors in the latest edition of American Idol has lived with the condition since she was 6.

When Crystal Bowersox is on stage, she seems like nothing can touch her. But the American Idol contestant, just like everyone, is far from invincible.

Dealing with juvenile diabetes is nothing new for Bowersox. However, a recent hospitalization almost forced her out of the competition.

“The mystery illness is juvenile diabetes, I’ve had it since I was six.” said Bowersox, candidly talking about her condition.

In early March, show producers had to switch performance dates around when the contestant went to the hospital suddenly because of a complication.

“Things happen, things go wrong, stress affects your blood sugar,” she said. “There’s just so many factors.”


Sanofi Aventis enters the Glucose Meter race

April 1, 2010

Sanofi Aventis is responsible for single-handedly revolutionizing the diabetes market earlier this century with the approval of Lantus, the first “basal” insulin to be approved by the FDA.

Now, the french company has it’s eyes set on a new challenge: Blood Glucose meters. Sanofi-Aventis has “further broadened its healthcare business on Wednesday by agreeing to develop blood sugar monitoring systems with AgaMatrix, a privately held U.S. firm.” said a Reuters report.

The original press release also indicates that “The move takes the group into the world of medical devices and is part of a strategy by Chief Executive Chris Viehbacher to diversify Sanofi, reducing its traditional reliance on branded prescription drugs.

Viehbacher told Reuters last year he was interested in certain areas of medical technology, including devices that allow patients to measure their health at home.

“The vision of the company is to become a healthcare company (so) it’s logical to look at some kinds of devices,” he said at the time. [ID:nL5498514]

Under the terms of the agreement, AgaMatrix and Sanofi will co-develop blood glucose monitoring devices that can simplify the management of insulin therapy, where Sanofi is already a leader with insulin drugs such as Lantus and Apidra.

Sanofi plans to start selling the first products from the partnership in the second half of 2010, it said.

Financial terms of the collaboration were not disclosed but the blood monitoring systems will be exclusive to Sanofi and will be designed to work synergistically with its existing diabetes treatments.

“This agreement is a concrete step towards fulfilling our vision to deliver integrated solutions to patients and become the partner of choice in the field of diabetes,” said Pierre Chancel, head of Sanofi’s diabetes division.


New “Old” infusion set for Medtronic

March 21, 2010

Geoffrey Steinman, a user from TuDiabetes has recently mentioned in the Minimed group that he had the opportunity to try a new infusion set for the Minimed Paradigm, the Paradigm Mio. As a Paradigm 522 user myself, I’ve been battling with a number of set malfunctions from my favorite set, the Quickset. I was therefore, quite intereted in looking into thi new alternative.

Unfortunately, as soon as I saw the pictures published by Geoffrey, I discovered there is really nothing new in the Mio. When you compate this pictures of the Mio

With the pictures of the Unomedical Inset II

I must admit that these two sets look identical. I can only speculate and say that they are probably being made by the same manufacturer.  If this two sets are really identical, then the only benefit of the new set would be the Paradigm connector, which would make use of the Thinset reservoir unnecessary.

Now the big question is what impact will this have on the market. Will it kill the Thinset and ultimately reinforce the monopoly of Minimed in Paradigm consumables ? Only time will tell.


Cheaper pumps for Australian Kids

February 25, 2010

The Australian government announced yesterday an enhancement to the pumps subsidy program for children which could help in the path towards universal insulin pump adoption for people with Type 1 Diabetes.

In an article published in their regular newsletter, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation indicates that the  “Minister for Health, Nicola Roxon MP, has announced an expansion of the Type 1 Diabetes Insulin Pump Program, with a dramatically increased government subsidy of up to 80% of the purchase price of an insulin pump.

The program was first launched in 2008 and provides a means-tested subsidy towards the purchase of an insulin pump for children under 18 who do not have access to private health insurance.

In Australia insulin pumps can cost up to $8,000, making them a medically desirable but unaffordable option for many without private health rebates.

Children under 18 with type 1 diabetes will now be eligible, on the recommendation of a health professional, for a subsidy of up to 80% of the cost of an insulin pump, to a maximum of $6,400 and a minimum of $500.”

Interestingly, the JDRF has also created a form in the website so members from the public can send thank you notes to the Minister.


Cheeseburgers may not be bad after all

February 18, 2010

A new report published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has combined results of 21 academic studies and determined that there is no evidence of any links between satudared fat and heart disease.

In the past, “Research has shown that saturated fat can raise blood levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, and elevated LDL is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Because of this, experts generally advise people to limit their intake of fatty meat, butter and full-fat dairy.

The American Heart Association (AHA) suggests that adults get no more than 7 percent of their daily calories from the fat; for someone who eats 2,000 calories a day, that translates into fewer than 16 grams of saturated fat per day.

But in the new analysis, which combined the results of 21 previous studies, researchers found no clear evidence that higher saturated fat intakes led to higher risks of heart disease or stroke.

The findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, may sound like good news for steak lovers, but a past AHA president cautioned against “over interpreting” the results.

“No one is saying that some saturated fat is going to harm you…people should enjoy their food,” said Dr. Robert H. Eckel, a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver.

But, he pointed out, many studies have shown that dietary saturated fat can raise people’s cholesterol, and the new analysis is not going to change recommendations to keep saturated fat intake in check.

Perhaps more importantly, though, Eckel said that the thinking on diet and heart health is moving away from a focus on single nutrients and toward “dietary patterns.”

The full story is avalable here