As a disease, diabetes has become a bit of a paradox. Early in the 20th century, a diagnosis of diabetes was akin to a death sentence. Until insulin was discovered in 1922, there were no solutions to this vexing disease. And thanks in part to insulin and other advances in treatment, people are living longer now than ever before.
Conversely, more people than ever have diabetes.The number of people affected globally has doubled to 366 million, and the International Diabetes Federation says that number will increase to 438 million by 2030.
In his most recent column in Forbes, John Lechleiter -- Lilly's chairman, president, and chief executive officer -- says public policies that allow innovation to thrive can stem the tide of diabetes. Treatment, in fact, can advance from disease management to disease modification (in other words, slowing or halting the progression of diabetes) on a clear medical innovation path.
"Unfortunately, too often today, the policies that dictate prescribing and reimbursement for diabetes treatments stifle this kind of innovation," John wrote. "Rules that force population-based standardization ignore the individuality of this disease and instead result in treatment choices that are both too broad and too limited."
We need more breakthroughs - not fewer - for all diseases, including diabetes. A policy environment that fosters medical innovation is a critical part of the equation.