It?s Aaron Kowalski from the JDRF. I?ve been reading the thread on the ad that we ran today in the NY Times and the Washington Post and wanted to provide some context and offer the opportunity for folks to ask questions of me. But, before getting into a detailed response, I want to say unequivocally that this ad has nothing to do with fundraising and everything to do with driving home the life saving and life changing potential of artificial pancreas technologies. And, every single person on this forum and those they know with diabetes has a stake in JDRF?s drive to accelerate progress on the Artificial Pancreas.
As some of you know, I?m a scientist at JDRF. I?ve worked at JDRF since 2004, helped launch and still oversee our Artificial Pancreas Project research efforts, and have overseen our hypoglycemia research funding for the past 7 years. On a personal note, I have a very personal connection to T1D. My brother was diagnosed at age 3 (in 1977) and I was diagnosed at 13 (1984). Like everyone reading and posting on these forums, my family has struggled (sometimes quite mightily) with this disease.
Given this personal connection to T1D, I understand why the 1 in 20 statistic has generated such an emotional response. It is alarming, even frightening. But it is not sensationalized as some have suggested. Unfortunately, this is based upon all of our current knowledge of the state of diabetes and we highlighted it to raise awareness among those at the FDA making a decision that affects my life, my brother?s life and your lives. Gary Feit from the JDRF has posted the basis for the statement in the ad. These are facts we ought not to run away from. In my family, severe hypoglycemia has been a 30 plus year battle that and a constant fear. I?ve given multiple glucagon injections and it is terrifying.
As I said, JDRF did not publish this ad to raise money. We ran this ad to tell the FDA that lives can be improved and even saved. We ran it because we want the FDA to understand that tools do exist to do this! JDRF-funded research has shown that predictive algorithms can minimize hypo by up to 80%. We can prevent many of these deaths. It is unacceptable to JDRF and it should be unacceptable to you that the United States is pretty much the only country in the world that hasn?t approved the Medtronic Veo pump that suspends insulin delivery when a person is low and non-responsive. This ad says to the FDA that they must get this guidance right.
I would welcome the chance to talk more about the amazing progress happening on ?closing the loop?. See www.jdrf.org for the press release we put out last week announcing the first real-world studies (funded by JDRF) of a closed-loop system. The first semi-automated systems are coming and could transform how we manage our diabetes. But, the big question is will they come to the United States at the same time as the rest of the world? Or will we be years behind? This is what the ad was about ? plain and simple.