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When Patients Become Dollar Signs

by Karyn Michelle Wofford

“How big is the potential market for diabetes drugs in China? As big as the entire populations of Australia, Canada and Argentina — combined. And it’s growing.

Fa Yuen Street Market in Hong Kong

That has drug manufacturers turning more attention to the world’s most populous country in hope of collecting massive new revenues in the coming decades.” That is the opening statement in an article by Market Watch, written by Sara Sjolin.

You can get the gist of this, probably unintentionally offensive article. This article literally paints diabetics as potential revenue, nothing else, and it is not an uncommon thing when it comes to the drug industry.

With interviewees of big drug companies using  phrases like “still time for jockeying” (in investing in diabetes drugs) and “hope” for more revenue, it makes people who suffer , physically and financially from the disease, feel disgusted.

China- The Best Place to Cash In

The article on Market Watch focuses on China. The diabetes business is hot in this part of Asia, and it’s a business that focuses on treatment to sustain rather than to cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, 100 million people in China have diabetes and the number is growing at an alarming rate, leaving investors and diabetes supply companies noticing the “potential”. The US comes in at 30 million people suffering from diabetes.


China has adapted many bad habits, like relying on cars rather than walking or riding a bike as well as a diet of high fat and high sugar. However, another interesting idea has been suggested… pollution. Pollution overloads the body with toxins, which puts stress on every one of our systems. This definitely could be a part of the equation, because China has a lot of pollution. Pollution not only increases chances of developing diabetes, but can strongly be linked to cancer and other diseases as well.

Why Don’t Companies Focus on a Cure?

The diabetes industry in China is  a 5.12 billion dollar industry. I have to think that there is money to be made in a cure as well.

40 to 60 percent of China’s diabetics will die before the age of 60. “Treatment” isn’t cutting it. People are dying and something needs to be done. Diabetics deserve more than 60 years, their children deserve to have their parents around for their wedding, for the grandchildren. They need their mom’s advice when they are expecting their first baby, the kids need grandpa’s funny stories. The selfishness of the world is robbing these people, and chances are, with the rate increasing, it will rob you.

My Plea

Diabetes rates are sky rocketing world wide. I have had the condition for 15 years and I am ready for a change. I am ready to be seen not as a patient, not as revenue, not as a statistic, but as a hurting human being. My plea is that the drug companies will see us all as real people who need something better. Let’s push harder for a cure.


First of all, I do want to thank those who have worked hard to provide what we do have. Without insulin, or insulin resistance drugs, many would not be here, and I am not overlooking that. I also know it easy to solely look at money when it comes to your job… but I am asking them to look beyond that, look at the difference that could be made.

You can read the full Market Watch article at the following link: