Our Journey To Treat Diabetes

Today’s guest blog comes from President of Lilly Diabetes, Enrique Conterno.

No therapeutic area has a deeper heritage at Lilly than diabetes. For more than 90 years – from our partnership with the University of Toronto that made insulin available in 1923 to our broad and innovative portfolio of today – Lilly has relentlessly worked to find solutions that make life better for people with diabetes.

I’m incredibly proud to lead a business with such an important mission: meeting the diverse needs of people with diabetes. And our work is inspired by the stories of people who bravely live each day with this disease, such as those recognized by the Lilly Diabetes Journey Awards program.

Since 2009, our Journey Awards program has recognized more than 11,000 people who have successfully managed their type 1 diabetes with insulin for 10, 25, 50, and even 75 years. This year alone, we’ve recognized more than 475 people with 50-year medals and five people who, remarkably, have used insulin for 75 years. These medals recognize the dedication and perseverance needed to successfully live with diabetes.

image3This summer, several of us at Lilly had the opportunity to meet a man from Minneapolis who rode his bike to our headquarters in Indianapolis to get his 50-year medal and to meet the people who work on our insulin business every day. It was a breathtaking moment: a man with a disease that must be carefully monitored and treated each day riding more than 500 miles to meet the people who make his insulin.

Why tell this story now? Saturday is World Diabetes Day – and people around the world are being recognized for living full lives despite the barriers created by diabetes. According to new statistics from the International Diabetes Federation, 415 million adults are living with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes (with one-half of them undiagnosed). By 2040, IDF believes the number will grow to 642 million – that’s 1 of every 10 adults globally.

Yet, millions of people are successfully living with this disease. They are athletes, business leaders, students and parents. Thanks to better education and better treatments, people are living long, even extraordinary lives. But our work is far from over. Prevalence rates are higher than ever, so we must do more to stop diabetes in its tracks. Medical innovation – finding ways to improve upon the progress we started 92 years ago – is an important part of that answer. 

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