I was walking past Union Square, here in NYC, last night where I saw mini-carnival of booths and a sound stage with music playing as part of the Novo Nordisk bus tour for promoting World Diabetes Day and also the insulin analogs they produce.
If you go to the WDD Web site, you see that they are funded by a host of pharm and medical device manufacturers. Their partners include Desert Dingo Racing. [The] "racing team that will compete in the Baja 1000 race with a World Diabetes Day car, raising awareness of diabetes and collecting donations for the Life for a Child Progam"[sic]. "Raising awareness" is the operative buzzphrase here (see below).
Unfortunately they had to compete with all the holidays installations that are coming alive with the TV crew coverage of the unveiling of the window displays at Lord & Taylor ("Christmas is the moment..." ...when you hit your credit limit), and the ice skating rink at Bryant Park that I also walked past. I was on my way to a science writers meeting at a bar that was more crowded than normal, with plenty of sponsored food and drink.
Things haven't been so optimistic for other pharm companies with type 2 diabetes meds:
- Pfizer withdraws Exubera, the inhaled insulin substitute, from the market
- Byetta, the injected Gila monster saliva derived incretin mimetic, has been involved with some 30 postmarketing reports of acute pancreatitis according to the FDA
- A CNN analyst doesn't think problems that Novartis is having with its incretin enhancer Galvus will go away, and the he thinks that drug will never be approved in the US
Even the Empire State Building with be lit up with Blue/Blue/Blue to approximate the official diabetes blue color, Pantone 279 to be specific, in honor of today.
I think all these awareness raising efforts are losing their ability to compete with ubiquitous media messages in general. Some groups are saying that this is about about "medicalization" or disease mongering in order to boost profits for these companies.
As an example, Ed Silverman of Pharmalot reports on these stories:
Consumer Union "takes a whack at Glaxo’s Requip, the med for Restless Leg Syndrome" with this video. This prompted the head of the Restless Leg Foundation, a group with funding from Glaxo and Boehringer-Ingelheim, to urge its members to boycott Consumer Reports.
With all this awareness raising, it's no wonder we need more drugs for ADHD.
Update: NASCAR does diabetes, too. Their Web site says that this is their "first cause marketing program at this level of a NASCAR-sanctioned racing series." "Cause marketing" doesn't have the beneficent ring of "raising awareness." Call in the copywriters.