The bittersweet Diabetes economy

Eideard

In 1997, a group of experts convened by the American Diabetes Association changed the definition of type 2 diabetes, lowering the blood sugar threshold, and instantly as many as 1.9 million more Americans had the condition.

The same pattern played out in 2003, in an even bigger way, when the association changed the definition of a condition known as pre-diabetes and — overnight — 25 million more Americans were affected.

In the decade that followed, the diabetes industry boomed — thanks in part to a 2008 declaration by two endocrinology groups that pre-diabetes could be treated with drugs if diet and exercise didn’t lower blood sugar.

Last year, sales of diabetes drugs reached $23 billion, according to the data from IMS Health, a drug market research firm. That was more than the combined revenue of the National Football League, Major League Baseball, and the National Basketball Association.

But from 2004…

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