Specialty Pharmaceuticals: The Diabetes Pipeline

OCTOBER 10, 2011
David M. Suchanek, RPh

The management of type 1 and type 2 diabetes is a booming area of research and development, and the pipeline contains many innovative drugs and dosage forms. 

With an ever-increasing American waistline, research dollars continue to focus on the increasingly important health focus area of diabetes. Nearly 8% of the US population has diabetes, with a third being unaware. 1,2 That means that approximately 27 million patients will be visiting your pharmacy for medications—and your knowledge and care. Eighty-four percent of people with diabetes take medications 3 and will need the accompanying glucose meters, test strips, needles, and containers. Education about drugs, vitamins, and supplement interactions become increasingly important.

While manufacturers’ diabetes-specific R&D continues the fight with a whopping 235 pipeline products, comorbidities also take a seat in the ring. Obesity, hypertension, kidney disease, stroke, osteoporosis, gestational complications, nervous system complications, sexual dysfunction, and others are all part of the management challenge that all pharmacists must fully understand and focus on.

There is large opportunity for those pharmacists who make the effort, do the research, and find solutions for their customers. Managing diabetic patients is much more than “traditional pharmacy.” It is providing extra care and attention to those patients who really need your help in managing the vast and increasing complexities/comorbidities of diabetes.

The pipeline is very large and diabetes is a focus of all the stakeholders—managed care/payers, manufacturers, physicians, and pharmacists. Make sure it is a primary focus of your pharmacy.

David M. Suchanek, RPh, is senior vice president of biotech and specialty services at D2 Pharma Consulting, LLC, a consulting firm which focuses exclusively on pharma services in the life sciences industry. Mr. Suchanek is a member of the Specialty Pharmacy Times editorial board. For more information, visit www. SpecialtyPharmacyTimes.com. 


1.      New report shows record number of medicines currently in development to treat diabetes. PhRma.org. Web site. May 2010.

2.      GBI Research. Diabetes therapeutics market to 2016 - biguanides and insulin analogs to be the largest selling anti-diabetic drugs. December 2010.

3.      Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Diabetes Fact Sheet. www.cdc.gov.

4.      Biopharmaceutical companies developing a record 235 medicines to treat diabetes and related conditions. PhRma.org. Web site 2010.

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