Conclusion: Commonsense Rules

Diabetes commonsense

Introduction: Enter Dr Lawrence
Balance: Signpost to Success
Juggling the Blue Carbohydrate and Red Insulin Balls
The Great Debate: Natural Animal or Artificial ‘Human’ Insulin?
Conclusion: Commonsense Rules


Diabetes Common Sense

Conclusion: Commonsense Rules

Has there been any progress in the treatment of diabetes since Dr. Lawrence died on 28 August 1968? The traditional treatment which he devised involved two injections in twenty four hours. Nowadays, some diabetics on insulin are expected to prick the skin as often as five or even six times a day. This can hardly be regarded as progress. “There is nothing wrong with what is called conventional therapy, twice daily doses of short and longer acting insulins, and it is quite possible to achieve ‘good’ control on this regime.

The multi-dose treatment encourages people to keep changing doses and then there can be too many variables involved to achieve stability.”(9) Despite all the modern methods of treatment and so many professionals working with diabetics, there is not much to show for it. The Cohort Study, carried out from 1972 to 1997 by the British Diabetic Association (now Diabetes UK), based on research into trends or causes of death, states that “although care has been improving and quality of life for people with diabetes has improved, the study does not show that there has been the reduction in the rates of death among younger diabetics under the age of forty that might have been expected. Only further studies will show if this improved knowledge will reduce deaths in the future.” Unfortunately, some people on insulin are still at risk of being found dead in their beds and, as Dr. Gerlis points out, these are avoidable deaths that should never occur.

Could it be that commonsense has been forgotten and research has taken a wrong turn? Recently, genetically modified ‘human’ insulins have appeared in bewildering varieties. This has confused everybody. In the effort to make a right choice, the possible advantages of old-fashioned animal insulin, with its slower action and better warning of hypos, can be overlooked. With these new insulins, the threat of sudden hypos has increased rather than decreased, cutting away our safety net. When we recover from the distress of a sudden hypo, we wonder why nothing has been done to replace the blood sugar control system we lost when we became diabetic. It is high time that scientific research should concentrate on giving us back this valuable warning system instead of flooding the market with new ‘designer’ insulins of doubtful value. Dr. Laurence Gerlis has stated that there is not a shred of evidence to show that human insulin has any benefits over animal insulins.(10) Indeed, many thousands of us have suffered from its disadvantages. Commercial pressure seems to be the main reason for promoting these synthetic insulins. Perhaps this explains why information about animal insulin as a viable alternative has been suppressed and, worse still, why it has been taken off the market in many countries.

Of course it would be wonderful if a cure for diabetes could be found. In the meantime, however, a general problem in modern medicine has to be addressed, to allow for individual personal dynamics. For people with diabetes, this is especially true. An awareness of the many differences in treatment and dietary needs is crucial for good medicine and good health. Knowing this, patients and doctors must find out how to co-operate on equal terms. My hope for the future is that the capabilities and expertise of the patient may come to the surface, and that commonsense will rule, with balance close beside it on one side and informed choice on the other. We must become skilled jugglers, working with the blue carbohydrate and the red insulin balls before we can live successfully with our diabetes. Sadly, diabetic welfare can be threatened by commercial interests. The right to decide which treatment suits us best should not be negotiable. I shall end as I began, by reverting to the wisdom of Dr. Lawrence. The care team should provide the accompaniment but, as an intelligent diabetic, it is for me to play my own melody and to be in control.

© Copyright Beatrice Reid 2000


  1. R.D.Lawrence, Almost All About Diabetes, London: A Family Doctor Booklet, British Medical Association. P. 2.
  2. ibid. P. 31.
  3. Peter Sonksen, Dr. Charles Fox, Sue Judd, Diatetes at Your Fingertips, London: Class Publishing,     Fourth Edition Reprinted 1999. P. 58.
  4. ibid. P. 56.
  5. Dr. Laurence Gerlis, report from AGM of IDDT, Birmingham, October 1999. P. 5.
  6. ibid. P. 6.
  7. Jenny Hirst, IDDT Newsletter No. 21, July 1999.
  8. Report from AGM of IDDT, October 1999. P. 1.
  9. Dr. Laurence Gerlis, ibid. P. 5.
  10. ibid.

Useful Addresses

InDependent Diabetes Trust
PO Box 294

tel: 01604 622837 
e-mail: [email protected]  

Diabetes UK [formerly British Diabetic Association] 10 Queen Anne Street
London W1M 0BD

tel: 01 171 3231531

Diabetic Federation of Ireland
76 Gardiner Street Lower
Dublin 1

tel: 01 8363

CP Pharmaceuticals Ltd [now Wockhardt UK]
Ash Road North
Wrexham Industrial Estate
Wrexham LL13 0UF

Help line: 01 1978 666172

Further copies of this booklet may be obtained from IDDT, see above.