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What Big Pharma is Not Telling About Type 2 Diabetes Medications

February 5, 2020

With all the digital advertising and breathless discoveries announced by the pharmaceutical industry, you’d be forgiven for thinking that we had made some progress in treating type 2 diabetes. But the disturbing truth is that 30 million Americans battle type 2 diabetes today, and the number is climbing rapidly.

Another 84 million of us have pre-diabetes, a condition of elevated blood sugar that progresses to full-blown diabetes over the course of the coming years if no intervention is taken. Which all means that an astonishing number of us are taking diabetes medications. But there is a whole lot more to controlling blood sugar with pills and shots than meets the eye.

Big Pharma and Type 2 Diabetes Medications

The first thing big pharma has failed to mention is that no current medication reverses diabetes. The promotions have most definitely not mentioned that treating the blood sugar number with shots and pills is a far cry from treating the root cause of the disease.

Studies show that even under standard medical care with lots of prescribed medications, diabetes shortens life expectancy by 8-1/2 years on average. Diabetes keeps on damaging the small blood vessels of the retinas, kidneys, heart, and toes with a relentlessness the medications do not touch.

The second thing your pharmaceutical company did not tell you is that diabetes is reversible. Completely. There is a proven path to achieving a complete remission of type 2 diabetes that allows you to throw away the medications, enjoy normal blood sugar levels, and live a much longer, healthier life.

In fact, only this total reversal of diabetes – not merely controlling the blood glucose number - truly stops the progression to blindness, kidney failure, and amputations.

Achieving complete remission or cure takes more effort, but it is safer and cheaper than continuing to “treat the number.” One of Dr. Sasse’s patients had taken pills and insulin for years before he sought a cure. Now, more than ten years later, he is still free of diabetes.

The third thing your drug company might have neglected to mention is that the path to curing type 2 diabetes is exercise, a lower-carb diet, and most critically, metabolic surgery, a 45-minute procedure with 4 Band-Aids. A mountain of evidence over the past forty years shows us this path succeeds in reversing type 2 diabetes for around 80% of people with diabetes, with risks far lower than the shots and pills route.

In a 2018 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, people on the shots-and-pills conventional treatment plan were over twice as likely to die after 3 years, and 4 times as likely to die at 7 years, than those on the let’s-try -to-cure-the-diabetes-with-surgery-and-exercise plan:

Type 2 Diabetes Medications

Fisher, JAMA 2018

The fourth thing the big pharma ads and websites do not tell you is that while no current medication today reverses the disease.

Several of the medications actually make diabetes worse by causing weight gain. Insulin, glipizide, and glyburide are notorious for causing weight gain as a side effect, and weight gain leads to worse insulin resistance and worsens diabetes. No wonder most people take more and more diabetes medication over their lifetimes, not less.

The fifth thing big pharma failed to mention is that metabolic surgery is a recommended treatment by the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, and nearly every advisory group that concerns itself with human health and not pharmaceutical sales.

Metabolic Surgery Can Reverse Type 2 Diabetes

Once an obscure procedure, metabolic surgery today is a minimally-invasive, safe, proven procedure that reverses type 2 diabetes. Combine that 45-minute procedure with a new commitment to exercise, and you have a highly effective, winning formula; most people enjoy a full decade or more, free from the scourge of type 2 diabetes. In fact, it is the only proven path to a reversal of type 2 diabetes today. Just ask Dr. Sasse's patients and the hundreds of thousands of people who have done it.

You might wonder if surgery is the answer to this modern epidemic that is threatening to topple the health care system. You might rightfully wonder with a plague that is afflicting such a large swath of the population if Americans deserve a larger, more policy-driven solution that addresses the food supply and other deleterious elements of the obesogenic environment. And you might rightfully wonder why more, and supposedly better diabetes drugs lead to more and more pharmaceutical sales and breakthrough advertising but do not translate to less diabetes or fewer complications of diabetes.

Seeking To Cure Type 2 Diabetes

But while we wait for proper upstream solutions from policymakers who have shown only the most minimal interest in the disease that kills more Americans than cancer, we in medicine must answer the downstream question each and every day of how to improve and extend the lives of the loving people with type 2 diabetes who are suffering today.

And what is tragically clear is that we would help millions of more people avoid amputations, heart attacks, kidney failure, and early death if we stopped setting our sights so low and stopped listening to a pharmaceutical industry that has contorted the treatment model toward a goal of treating a number while the disease runs amok, instead of treating the patient. Doctors should look at the data, listen to their patients, and seek to cure their disease.

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Kent Sasse

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Kent Sasse performed the first laparoscopic colon resection procedure and the first laparoscopic gastric bypass procedure in northern Nevada more than 14 years ago. Dr. Sasse is the author of numerous books and publications, and a featured speaker nationally in the field of weight reduction, bariatric medicine and surgery. Dr. Sasse founded Sasse Surgical Associates, located in Reno, NV. Dr. Sasse performed the first laparoscopic colon resection procedure and the first laparoscopic gastric bypass procedure in northern Nevada more than 14 years ago.