Blogs: News & Views

The Economic Burden of Diabetes

Published Online: Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Diabetes is a national problem—one that touches so many Americans that it has become both an economic and a health crisis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that nearly 26 million people have diabetes, and another estimated 79 million adults have prediabetes. These extraordinarily high numbers represent a significant increase over the past few years, especially for the prediabetes category. In 2008, the CDC estimated that 23.6 million Americans had diabetes; the prediabetes number was at 57 million. The implications are alarming—this means that more people will possibly develop diabetes, and health care costs will soar.

In a recent study, the CDC projected that as many as 1 in 3 US adults could develop diabetes by the year 2050 if current trends continue. This would double or triple the amount of individuals with diabetes. And the age group most affected and with the highest number of new cases diagnosed in 2010—adults aged 45 to 64 years—also foreshadows what the future might hold. Health professionals will need to tackle this concern with more patient education, prevention, and research. Pharmacists know that this growth in diabetes will only further complicate drug interactions as more patients present with multiple health problems.

“These are alarming numbers that show how critical it is to change the course of type 2 diabetes,” said Ann Albright, PhD, RD, director of the CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation. “Successful programs to improve lifestyle choices on healthy eating and physical activity must be made more widely available, because the stakes are too high and the personal toll too devastating to fail.” Proper diet, physical activity, and effective prevention programs directed at groups at high risk of type 2 diabetes can considerably reduce future increases in diabetes prevalence, but will not eliminate them, the report says.

But that’s only one side of the problem. The economic toll could be astounding in future years and we should take heed. With the mess currently enveloping Washington and the country as Obamacare rolls in, we cannot afford to ignore the reality of diabetes. Already, the cost of diabetes care is estimated at $174 billion annually, including $116 billion in direct medical expenses. Research from Health Affairs showed that the US national economic burden of diabetes and prediabetes reached $218 billion in 2007.

What’s the answer? Keeping Washington accountable and looking for less, not more, government intervention in the nation’s health care. As Thomas Paine said so many years ago, “Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.” With the ability of pharmacists and other health care professionals to see what is happening in their communities and make a real difference (see, this approach makes good common sense.

Thank you for reading!

Mike Hennessy, Chairman and CEO
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Mike Hennessy shares his views and perspectives on issues that affect pharmacists.
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ABOUT MIKE HENNESSY, President, Chairman, CEO

Mike Hennessy is President, Chairman, and CEO of MJH & Associates and Intellisphere, LLC, publisher of influential journals in health care, finance, and politics, including Pharmacy Times. Pharmacy Times is a clinically based, monthly journal providing practical information pharmacists can use in their everyday practice. Each issue contains articles and features covering medication errors, drug interactions, patient education, pharmacy technology, disease state management watches, patient counseling, product news, pharmacy law, and specialty pharmacy. Pharmacy Times is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) as a provider of free continuing pharmacy education.

As a businessman, entrepreneur, and publisher of magazines, iPad editions, projects, and Web sites that focus on the needs of health care professionals, Hennessy is intimately familiar with the challenges these professionals face every day in today's competitive practice environment. News & Views: Hennessy's Highlights dissects health care policy issues, the impact of pharmacy on national health care, and the critical issues that concern pharmacists as the new health care reform legislation is debated.

As publisher of Pharmacy Times, Mr. Hennessy launched the Next-Generation Pharmacist Awards in partnership with Parata Systems, to recognize the achievements of pharmacists in health care. "As the leader in pharmacy publishing, Pharmacy Times is shining a light on the critical role of the pharmacist in today's health care world and providing invaluable insight into the profession," Mike Hennessy, chairman, chief executive officer, and president said. "We are proud to recognize individual pharmacists in this 2nd annual awards program."

Pharmacy Times is published by Intellisphere, LLC, a leading provider of health care publishing, research, information, and education. Operating within both traditional and digital media channels, Intellisphere serves the needs of health care professionals through an extensive suite of magazines, journals, e-mail databases, Web sites, events and personal meetings. Intellisphere reaches more than half a million health care professionals through Pharmacy Times, Specialty Pharmacy Times, The American Journal of Managed Care, The American Journal of Pharmacy Benefits, MDNG,, Oncology & Biotech News, Oncology Net Guide, Contemporary Oncology, and Oncology Net Guide: Nurses' Edition.
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