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WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — Lower-limb amputation is a very real risk for many of the 25.8 million Americans living with diabetes. Though this study may be encouraging, the job of reducing the incidence of diabetes — and in particular, educating people about the need to watch their diets, take their medications and take care of their bodies — remains far from complete, as other recent stories in the media have revealed.
(THE NEWS: CDC study reports drop in lower-limb amputations among diabetes patients. For the full story, click here)
A 10,149-patient Finnish study published earlier this month in the journal Diabetes Care found that many patients at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes don't see the need to seek lifestyle counseling to prevent themselves from getting the disease and that those who attended a supervised lifestyle intervention were more likely to perceive a need for it than those who agreed to a self-initiated lifestyle change. Meanwhile, celebrity chef Paula Deen attracted widespread criticism for what many saw as hypocrisy after announcing that she would become a paid spokeswoman for a diabetes drug after hiding her Type 2 diabetes for three years, during which she continued eating sugar- and fat-laden foods.
What this all shows is that diabetes and its often tragic consequences remain unknown or at least ignored by a large number of people. Luckily, however, pharmacy retailers are in a position to ensure that patients take their drugs and have the information they need.
With medication therapy management programs, pharmacists can counsel patients to ensure that they take their drugs in the way that their doctors have ordered. Meanwhile, pharmacy retailers — particularly supermarkets and mass merchandisers with big food sections, but also drug stores — can emphasize the importance of maintaining a healthy diet.
Rite Aid, for example, teamed up with celebrity chef Sam Talbot, a Type 1 diabetic and author of the cookbook "The Sweet Life: Diabetes Without Boundaries," to launch the Rite Track Diabetes Tour. CVS has made headway with the Pharmacy Advisor program, which mixes retail and PBM services, and Walgreens has won recognition for its MTM programs. Many supermarkets conduct store tours for people with diabetes. And all three retail formats are in a position to educate diabetes patients about the importance of things like foot care.
Reducing the incidence of diabetes, especially Type 2 — and consequences of the disease, such as amputations and blindness — is going to take a long time, but in pharmacy retailers, the country already has a well-developed infrastructure for providing the most important tool of all: education.