News of the Center
Message from the Director
These have been difficult times for all, and although things are better we are certainly not done with COVID-19. I am seeing increasing numbers of vaccinated people with COVID but fortunately none are severely ill. However, those who are not vaccinated are doing much worse, particularly those with diabetes. Therefore, if you have yet to be vaccinated get vaccinated!!! You can visit https://myturn.ca.gov to find where to receive a safe, free and effective COVID-19 vaccine to protect you from the current and future variants of COVID-19.
We’ve been doing our best to take care of you through the pandemic and appreciate the extra effort required on your behalf to learn how to upload your devices and connect for telemedicine visits. As we move forward, we are offering both telemedicine and in-patient visits depending on your preference. I see patients in the office or over telemedicine on Mondays and Tuesday afternoons and Thursdays are telemedicine visits only.
The American Diabetes Association annual meetings were held virtually again this year and I learned more than usual because I had time to “attend” the lectures rather than be trapped in meetings. Among other things I reported on the meetings for the New England Journal of Medicine, which was both challenging and fun.
My headlines are:
1. A new drug called tirzepatide, which is a new class of treatment, shows tremendous promise both for glucose as well as weight reduction. Its effectiveness is greater than any other treatment on the market. But it is not yet FDA approved and we need to learn if it is as good for the heart and kidneys as other medications for type 2 diabetes seem to be.
2. Multiple sessions discussed health care inequalities and social determinants of health. Although these have always existed more attention is being focused in these areas. True solutions involve economic and political changes leading to better education healthcare and a reduction in rates of poverty and food insecurity. However, given the limits of what healthcare professionals can do it is clear that answers are local and providing culturally appropriate care through individuals who are part of the community is helpful.
3. My most important presentation was as the co-chair of the new ADA/EASD guidelines for the Management of Type 1 Diabetes in Adults. Look for the "Peters on Diabetes" video on Medscape about the guidelines and read the outline in this newsletter feature story. I was also involved in two other presentations at the meeting, one providing an Overview of the ADA/EASD Consensus Statement on Diabetes Apps, another was participating in a Debate—Digital Coaching Systems for Type 2 Diabetes—Are They Worth the Cost?
4. We also learned more about the STEP trials that led to the recent FDA approved weight-loss medication branded as Wegovy that is a higher dose injectable version of the GLP-1 semaglutide. This is the medication that has been used at a lower dose for the treatment of type 2 diabetes sold as Ozempic and the oral version Rybelsus. People with and without type 2 diabetes showed an impressive 15% to 18% weight-loss over 68 weeks. However, it is unclear if it will be covered by insurance.
5. COVID-19 and the roll out of vaccines has taken most of the medical attention for this year, but 2021 is also the 100th anniversary of the identification and development of insulin. A session highlighted the transition from turning type 1 diabetes from a uniformly fatal disease to a treatable condition. Although we have many forms of insulin available it is still not easy to treat insulin-requiring diabetes. A potential one weekly basal insulin is under development and we look forward to more responsive insulins that can improve the performance of hybrid-closed loop pumps.
Many of these are covered in videos created by Dr. Peters and in meeting coverage provided by Mark. These videos can be viewed on Medscape after a free registration.
We saw tremendous healthcare disparities during COVID—disparities which always existed but were amplified by the pandemic. I work in underserved East Los Angeles and the death and suffering I saw there is difficult to describe. In our own way my dear Westside patients were able to help—a portion of the donations we received during the past year were used to provide devices like continuous glucose monitors so our less affluent patients could monitor their blood sugars and participate in telemedicine visits. I also received grant funding from the Helmsley Charitable Trust and Insulin for Life to help our East LA patients as well as an incredibly generous grant from the Hankey Foundation to further our work on health care disparities.
We can use all donations - big and small to help fund our research, advocacy and outreach programs in East Los Angeles and to improve the lives of all people with diabetes.
You can make an on-line donation at:
or send a check to:
USC Westside Center for Diabetes
9033 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90211
I wish you all a joyous and healthy next few months. I am optimistic that we will continue to win in the battle against COVID, although in slow steps. I encourage everyone to go in for all their missed routine visits, take care of yourself and hug the people you love.