Really Great Diabetes Information, From Medicare of All Places

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By: Linda von Wartburg

Well, this is a surprise. The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act (MMA) of 2003 contains a little known section, Section 1013, that has actually led to something really useful: Up-to-date information about diabetes culled from real research and presented in language that we all can understand. Section 1013 authorizes the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to compare the effectiveness of different approaches to difficult health problems and to make that information accessible and understandable to “decisionmakers”: that is, you, me, and our doctors. And diabetes is one of the difficult health problems to which the AHRQ is directing its attention.

The AHRQ produces three kinds of publications. Their summary guides are short comprehensive summaries of research reviews; some are meant for consumers and some for clinicians, but both types are worth investigating, and several are available in Spanish. Research reviews are comprehensive reviews of evidence, and new research reports cover new evidence and analytical tools.

Here is a list of all the AHRQ publications about diabetes. Among the summary guides, a couple of the best are the Guide to Premixed Insulin for Type 2 Diabetes and the Guide to Pills for Type 2 Diabetes. They’re a lot like Consumer Reports for diabetes meds, right down to the grid charts with the check marks. Both guides start with the basics, even including directions on how to pronounce hypoglycemia, but they’re also remarkably thorough. The pill guide compares every pill, from its good effects to its side effects, and concludes with detailed pricing comparisons. The premixed insulin guide also starts with the basics and is equally comprehensive, starting with a diabetes primer and again ending with price comparisons. If you are at all confused about diabetes pills or premixed insulin, take a look at these guides. After reading them, you won’t be confused any longer.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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