February is of course awards season thanks to the Grammys and Oscars, and in keeping with tradition we're excited to once again offer our own take on the "best-of" in various categories among the Diabetes Community.
What's unique about our DiabetesMine D-Oscars is that they not only praise work over the past year, but also give a nod to those who are continuously influencing the D-Community in positive ways (plus some not-so-good examples).
Below are our picks for the past year -- from early 2017 to the first weeks of 2018. Winners get access to our special "virtual D-Oscar" icon created by our talented illustrator friend, T1-peep Brad Slaight. Yes, he resembles a deep sea diver, but those are actually Blue Circles for diabetes awareness on his head and hands, People!
And with that... Envelopes Please...
Most Exciting New Diabetes Med: Fiasp
New Fiasp ultra rapid-acting insulin from Novo Nordisk (also approved last Fall) brings a new injectable to the D-Community, one that starts working within minutes and can even be dosed 20 minutes after you've started eating a meal. OK, not everyone who's tried it swears by it, but as famous Diabetes Educator and Author Gary Scheiner says, "an almost Holy Grail is better than no grail at all."
Most Innovative Diabetes Policy: FDA's Pre-Certification Pilot Program
Notably, the federal agency has been putting some truly innovative policies into place -- from a push for more generics and biosimiliar medications, to speeding up regulatory reviews on drugs and devices, and now also how it oversees software and mobile apps. This past year, the FDA announced a Pre-Certification for Software Pilot Program that would evaluate and dub certain companies as "trustworthy," to give their products the needed regulatory nod without the usual protracted regulatory review period. The Diabetes Community was quite visibly a part of this, with open-source data group Tidepool and others being named to be part of the pilot program for pre-cert process and informing the FDA's work.
Best New D-Tech: Abbott FreeStyle Libre
The new Abbott Libre Flash Glucose Monitoring system is a clear winner. After being available outside the USA for years, this first-of-its-kind product was approved here in the States in September, marking the FDA's first allowance of a continuous glucose monitoring device that does not any calibration -- i.e. patients are not asked to take fingerstick tests to accuracy-check the device. While the first generation product may not offer continuous data streaming or alarms like traditional CGMs, the Libre is a whole new animal that brings more options for the D-Community. And it's getting a lot of positive traction among new users in America!
Most Amazing Acquisition: mySugr (by Roche Diabetes Care)
Wow, the little Vienna-based company that makes the MySugr diabetes app got snapped up by Pharma giant Roche last summer for a sale price as much as $100 million (!) Huge congrats to founders Frank Westermann, Fredrik Debong and team! We're big fans of this app and data-sharing platform and its fun twist on "taming the diabetes monster" (lil' monster icon), and we hear that as of the recent #ATTD18 conference, Roche is now referring to MySugr as its "face to patients." We look forward to seeing what Roche can do with this compelling new face.
Best Comeback from the Brink: It's a Tie!
Who made the biggest surprise comeback this past year? Weeellll, it's a tie between inhaled insulin developer MannKind Corp and t:slim pump maker Tandem Diabetes . Both were equally predicted to fail. In fact, each week, it seems someone is 100% certain the writing on the wall is saying one of these companies will not survive. Yet despite the uncertainty, both remain alive and moving forward.
Meanwhile, MannKind's Afrezza remains available and they continue hiring new leadership and sales reps as well as conducting clinical trials to better market the product and even move beyond diabetes. Sure, the future is unknown... but anyone who claims the end is near, is either lying or believes in their own crystal ball too much.
Best #WeAreNotWaiting Advocacy Upset: JDRF's Open Protocols Initiative
Better late than never. The big T1D non-profit org launched an initiative that many in the do-it-yourself, open-source universe have been clamoring to see for years -- an embrace of #WeAreNotWaiting in which JDRF encourages the D-device industry to move toward openness, rather than proprietary products (especially aimed at closed loop technology). Recently at #ATTD18, Roche publicly committed to this Open Protocols Initiative, which is good news even though they no longer sell insulin pumps in the U.S. It's also great to know this runs in parallel with other efforts such as Dexcom's launch of its OpenAPI and collaborative development platform in recent months.
Boldest DOC Voice: Beyond Type 1
With their dynamic graphics and partnerships with seemingly everyone in the DOC, and the celebrity clout they bring to the table, this California non-profit has already made big waves in our D-Community since appearing on the scene just a few years ago. BT1 has initiated multiple advocacy campaigns to help individuals and raise awareness -- from aiding a little boy in need of an insulin pump to educating pediatricians around the country on the risks of DKA. We're especially impressed with how they jumped in to rescue the online community TuDiabetes, after the unexpected folding of the Diabetes Hands Foundation last year.
The Snazzy Dresser (with Diabetes) Award: Type 1 Clothing
For many who wear diabetes gear, finding fashionable clothing that works can be quite a challenge, from workout gear to wedding dresses that need special pockets. One of the small D-businesses addressing this issue that got a lot of press during the last year was Type 1 Clothing, a little UK-based outfit created by fellow T1 PWD Natalie Balmain (aka @msbalmain). They offer a whole selection of hip T-shirts and snazzy ladies wear, designed specifically with the diabetes community in mind. See this coverage at Healthline proper to find out more about this particular stylish D-Oscar Winner!
Best Public Display of Diabetes (PDOD): British Prime Minister Theresa May
The prime minister of the United Kingdom, who was diagnosed with T1D as an adult in 2012, snags the award here, not only for becoming such a prominent face of success with diabetes, but also for so openly talking about and showing off her diabetes and gear, the Abbott FreeStyle Libre sensor on her arm. At one point last year, she even had a low blood sugar and joked about the candy she ate to boost her BG at the time.
An honorable mention in this category goes to the Apple Watch commercial in September with a mention of diabetes and Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) tech from Dexcom. Nice!
Biggest Eye-Roller D-Moments: The White House
On the flip side of the last category comes those who publicly dissed this disease. Sure, it was an eye-rolling moment when Jimmy Kimmel made a gaff about diabetes last Fall. But the bigger, more impactful flub came at the government level, with the misinformed way the White House Administration talked about diabetes during President Donald J. Trump's first year. First, budget director Mick Mulvaney made misinformed comments about diabetes related to healthcare policy, and then Trump himself threw shade at Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor (a longtime T1) for ostensibly not being healthy enough for a seat on the bench due to her diabetes. Combined with political battles over healthcare and drug pricing policies, it's been a frustrating time for our D-Community thanks to the federal government's "leadership." All of this has illustrated why efforts to raise D-Awareness and Advocacy are more important than ever, if you ask us.
Best Choreography in D-Community: Disaster Mode Responders
CDE Alaina Strobel (far right) with Julie Hibbs and Jaime Doty of Texas Search and Rescue
One of the biggest stories from this past year was the wave of natural disasters hitting parts of the USA and surrounding areas. But it was soul-enriching to see the D-Community's response to those catastrophes. From the grassroots level to the bigger diabetes non-profit orgs to the corporate/industry side, people responded with generous help efforts. We feel that "Helping Hand Honor" awards should go to all those who did what they could in these tough times. Thank you!!
Best Grassroots Diabetes Advocacy: #insulin4all
Yep, it's a hashtag for the win. The #insulin4all initiative, launched by UK-based T1international in 2014 and evolving into a sweeping grassroots social media movement in recent years, has given more in the D-Community a voice many feel they haven't had with other D-orgs or campaigns.
And in recent months, they've stepped up their efforts to advocate for more affordable and accessible insulin -- particularly here in the USA. Notable wins include a first-of-its-kind law in Nevada aimed at insulin pricing transparency and then an in-person insulin-pricing protest at Lilly Diabetes HQ in September, as well as a line of litigation and state legislative actions aimed at insulin pricing transparency. This advocacy actually compliments and supplements broader efforts already in place to tackle the insulin affordability crisis -- even if the proclaimed #insulin4all advocates sometimes disagree with the effectiveness or merits of other efforts.
The Memorable D-Music Oscar(s)
OK, two D-Community members caught our ear and earned this musical award for the past season:
Rocker D-Dad Bart Millard: He's a singer-songwriter in Christian contemporary rock band MercyMe, who wrote the song Even If that centers on his teenage son Sam, diagnosed at age 2. In a testimony-live performance video, Bart talks about how at its base, this song is about enduring life's challenges -- whether it's life with diabetes or some other chronic condition, or struggling after a family member's death, or those just having a "bad day." It hits the heart, especially at the 3-minute mark of the video, where Bart says he knows that "Sam is going to change the world as a diabetic."
Canadian hip-hop singer Chedda Cheese: This rapper who's real name is Shea Rodger is a twenty-something from Calgary diagnosed with T1D at Christmas 2016. A year later he wrote a song about it, Diabetes At Christmas. It's a shorter tune at just over 90 seconds, and in media coverage we learn that Shea's brother is also a T1D, diagnosed a few years ago. Shea released this song in late 2017 to raise awareness, and honestly, it isn't bad. Plus you just have to appreciate the stage name of "Chedda Cheese"!
Best Supporting Role in D-Management: Your Smartphone
So much in diabetes care comes down to data -- from glucose numbers to carb counts and insulin dosing math. And of course, a key tool in all of that is smartphones. You can go simple by just using a phone calculator to calculate diabetes info, or use one of hundreds of mobile apps to view glucose readings or CGM graphs, and even key in exercise and sleep data. Not everyone has a smartphone, to be sure. But a majority do and this past year has pushed smartphone use in diabetes management to an all-time high.
Honorable Mention: A shout-out in the "Best Supporting Role" always has to go to the Loving and Supporting Spouses and Partners everywhere. Yes, those of us with someone special in our life know very well that we wouldn't be able to tackle diabetes the way we do without them.
The Angry Oscar: Insulin Pricing Players
We wish this weren't still an issue -- and that the same ones who earned this negative D-Oscars recognition last year had changed enough to get off the list. But sadly, insulin pricing is still in crisis mode. Big Insulin manufacturers are still failing on this front. Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) and Insurers are still a part of the problem. There is lots of advocacy happening on this front, and some big lawsuits have been filed in the past year or so. Yet the outrage continues. Grrrr.
The Grumbly Award: Medtronic Diabetes
For all the praise and chatter about the Minimed 670G (aka the Hybrid Closed Loop), MedT dropped the ball on launching this as it had promised and customers expected -- with delays in getting the device itself to delays in CGM sensors and related supplies (in part due to hurricane-related manufacturing hiccups in Puerto Rico). But even now, as the company proclaims all issues are resolved, people in the D-Community continue sharing how their orders are being delayed, shipments and packages are being mishandled, and customer service remains a challenge.
(Un)Honorable Mention: The American Diabetes Association for its outdated, misguided policy preventing photos at its 2017 annual Scientific Sessions meeting. That photo ban became a media story in itself and many in the DOC and beyond griped about it (including us at the 'Mine), pushing the diabetes org to say it would re-evaluate its policy for the future.
Lifetime Achievements in D-Advocacy: David Mendosa and Keith Campbell
Our D-Community lost three incredible PWDs during the past year, who deserve recognition for the impact they've made on so many.
David Mendosa: Considered by many to be the "father of the Diabetes Online Community," David began his journey with T2D in 1994 and began writing about it online shortly thereafter -- when the Internet was still in its infancy. He connected many D-peeps over the years and was a true journalist, not to mention an influential D-advocate who helped shape conversations about diabetes and tech. We wrote a tribute about David following his death in May 2017.
Keith Campbell: Living with T1D for 68 years, Keith has left a legacy in large part through his work in helping to create the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) four decades ago and in shaping diabetes education over the past decades. This is the story on Keith that we wrote several years ago, and ran again after his passing in November 2017.
Judy Reich: We also very recently lost diabetes advocate and longtime T1 Judy Reich in Las Vegas, who passed away early in February 2018. She was a bright spot and inspirational soul, and we wrote a tribute to her here. She will certainly be missed!
These D-peeps remain in our hearts and their legacies live on in our D-Community.
Overall Best in Diabetes: People
Seriously, YOU are the winner here. (Whoa, are there that many D-Oscars available...?)
We believe that all people with diabetes and those in our D-Community -- from those who live with T1 or T2 to parents and caregivers, and the medical professionals and others focusing on research or product development -- deserve recognition here for all they do. So many POVs exist and even when we disagree, it's so important to recognize and respect those viewpoints and the people behind them. Here's to you!!
CONGRATS to all the WINNERS!
What do you think, D-Friends?