Signs of hope on World Diabetes Day

Enrique Conterno headshotToday’s guest blog comes from President of Lilly Diabetes, Enrique Conterno.

Today is World Diabetes Day, and you’ll probably hear some sobering statistics about the disease that we refer to – very correctly – as an epidemic. Diabetes already affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Within two decades its prevalence is expected to increase by more than 50 percent.

Such figures should startle us and give us a sense of urgency.

But what the numbers should not do is discourage us. Today, of all days, is a good time to reflect on all we have accomplished in our collective efforts to make a difference against diabetes.

A few examples of success:

  • For people with diabetes in the U.S., the risk of some complications – in particular, amputations and heart attacks – dropped significantly from 1990 to 2010.
  • In Europe, survival rates are improving for people with diabetes. The Euro Diabetes Index notes that although diabetes incidence is increasing, death rates from diabetes have decreased steadily in almost all EU countries.
  •  In emerging countries, where rising diabetes numbers are especially dramatic, practical and culturally sensitive approaches to prevention and treatment are taking hold. For example, the Lilly-sponsored Managing Diabetes During Ramadan Conversation Map tools are now available in 15 countries, most of them emerging countries, to help Muslims with diabetes to experience a healthier Ramadan.
  • R&D progress across our industry continues to result in new options for people with diabetes. Importantly, Lilly is a big part of that progress. Both alone and with our partner, Boehringer Ingelheim, we have received regulatory approvals for four diabetes products in 2014 alone. 


More needs to be done, of course. But we are gaining traction. With tenacity, collaboration and the support of public policies that encourage diabetes prevention along with innovative therapies, we’ll continue to accelerate progress.

Today, on the anniversary of the birth of Frederick Banting, the co-discoverer of insulin, we can feel energized and hopeful about the work we do so the millions of people with diabetes might lead better, healthier lives.