Great White Lies

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June 27, 2013 | 2 Comments



    I can’t resist posting this 2012 interview with Paula Deen, TV’s queen of Southern cooking and celebrity spokesperson for Victoza. Paula took a lot of heat for hawking a $500-a-month diabetes drug while promoting ultra-fattening food on her show (just reading her recipes causes me to gain a few pounds). Lately she’s been in trouble over another bit of “Southern cultural heritage” that makes chicken fried steak look wholesome: an employee of her restaurant sued for racist mistreatment.

    This article is one of the few that actually touched on Victoza’s dangers. Poking fun at Paula herself was an easier (and safer) sound-bite for most media. Yet she’s an Oprah figure to lots of people … a successful woman who talks to all the leading experts, yet maintains her down-home, just-like-you-girlfriend credibility. And her fans (older, more Southern and probably less well off) have a much higher rate of diabetes than the folks who put her down, I bet.

    When it comes to our profit-driven healthcare industry, direct-to-consumer advertising is just the tip of the iceberg, I know – but it’s a wickedly effective one, with disastrous results. In recent weeks Paula’s been dumped by the Food Network, Wal-Mart and Smithfield Hams, but Novo Nordisk hung in there. Just yesterday they announced that they and Deen had “mutually agreed to suspend our patient education activities for now, while she takes time to focus her attention where it is needed.” They then saluted her efforts to raise diabetes awareness. I guess she’s been worth every penny.

  2. I’ve just ploughed my way through a fair amount of the NHS NICE Guidelines for treating Diabetes 2 – about as long as War & Peace and far more boring. I’m tickled to note that a series of recent amendments (2017/18) completely confirm Rxisk’s two diabetes posts: lots and lots of mentions of the serious danger of hypoglycemic episodes caused by medication, the need to avoid polypharmacy and if you read closely – the guidelines state now that all the new blood sugar lowering drugs have absolutely no impact on all the things that us diabetics are regularly threatened with if we don’t comply – heart attacks, stroke, having your feet amputated, going blind. There is explicit recognition that various new drugs (which will certainly lower your blood sugar) also hugely increase the chance of having your toes amputated, getting pancreatic cancer, actually having a stroke or MI. A recent drive to aggressively lower blood sugars (presumably through industrial quantities of medication) is acknowledged as having failed. It had no effect whatsoever on death rates or all the horrors patients get scared witless about. Metformin remains the sole drug with a reasonable track record of preventing some of the damage caused by chronically raised blood sugars.

    So, NICE has caught up with Rxisk! But it will take years and years to trickle down into practice . The diabetes industry is so big and so powerful as Johanna describes, us patients are just very small Davids challenging Goliaths. Depressing.

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