Utilizing one’s pharmacy technician training and certification, a student will encounter a variety of new products and research aimed at educating patients on specific illnesses. Abbott, a global health​ care company whose mission is to provide customers with low-cost medical technologies, recently released one such product: a new FDA-approved glucose meter for diabetics.

The FreeStyle Precision Neo Blood Glucose Monitoring System is the first from Abbott to be available over the counter for a low, affordable price​ at major U.S. retailers.1 The device requires no insurance paperwork or copay and is available for purchase at major U.S. retailers out of pocket. The meter costs between $36-45, including the price of test strips. The FreeStyle Precision Neo boasts features like a slim design, a quick, five-second test time and the ability to hold up to 1,000 readings.1 The device is highly accurate and doesn’t require any isurance paperwork or copays, unlike other branded diabetes products on the market.

Diabetes around the world
Diabetes is becoming a global epidemic due to increased obesity and physical inactivity, especially in low- to middle-income families in developing countries. Today, 347 million people have diabetes, which was the cause of 1.5 million deaths in 2012, according to the World Health Organization. The WHO predicts that by 2030, diabetes will be the seventh leading cause of death in the world.2

In 2014, 29 million U.S. adults suffered from the disease, compared to 26 million in 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Population reports.3 According to the American Diabetes Association, U.S. diabetes sufferers, on average, pay up to $7,900 per year in medical expenses related to their condition, which is 2.3 times higher than people who don’t have the disease.4 As these statistics continue to change, medical professionals, including medical assistants, should stay current on informative studies to educate patients.

Recent study shows equality between surgery and lifestyle change
Research completed by Dr. Allison Goldfine of the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston shows similar results with patients who underwent weight-loss surgery and diabetics who altered their diet and lifestyle.

Followed for one year, the participants chosen for the study were about 51 years old and obese​.5 Eighteen patients underwent laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding, which is a minimally invasive procedure that restricts the amount of food the stomach can hold. The other 22 members of the study used a supervised lifestyle management system to control their caloric intake, diet and exercise. Every week, this group met for two hours with specialists in nutrition and behavioral health, endocrinology, diabetes education and exercise physiology.5

The study tested which group would have a lower level of the hemoglobin A1c, a protein within red-blood cells that gets coated with sugar​.5 A1c is the gauge for average blood sugar levels over a period of time, usually spanning a few months.

Although the surgical group lost more weight than those using the management plan, both groups achieved a similar result in the lowering of A1c. As a result, scientists concluded that medical management of diet and exercise, along with diabetes education, can have a similar outcome for a patient as weight-loss surgery​.6

The global outbreak of diabetes is a serious epidemic in today’s culture. However, there are several ways to fight the onset of the disease, including adopting a nutritious diet and lifestyle. Students with a medical assistant degree will aid in formulating a medical management plan and will ensure that patients are taking the necessary steps to fight their illness. For people already suffering from diabetes, tools like the FreeStyle Precision Neo can help manage the disease at an affordable price. Medical school graduates will not only be able to offer a reliable, low-cost device to their patients, but will be able to assist them in jump starting a healthy lifestyle.

1“New blood glucose meter provides people with diabetes an accurate, affordable solution for glucose testing-without insurance copays,” Abbott Press Release, April 15, 2015. http://abbott.mediaroom.com/2015-04-15-New-Blood-Glucose-Meter-Provides-People-with-Diabetes-an-Accurate-Affordable-Solution-for-Glucose-Testing-Without-Insurance-Copays

2“Diabetes Programme,” World Health Organization, 2015. http://www.who.int/diabetes/en/

3“National Diabetes Statistic Report,” CDC, 2014. http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/statsreport14/national-diabetes-report-web.pdf

4“The Cost of Diabetes,” American Diabetes Association, April 18, 2014. http://www.diabetes.org/advocacy/news-events/cost-of-diabetes.html

5“For diabetes control, surgery and intensive lifestyle change about equal,” by Lisa Rapaport, Reuters, May 7, 2015. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/07/us-health-diabetes-control-options-idUSKBN0NS1SX20150507

6“Adjustable Gastric Band Surgery or Medical Management in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes: a Randomized Clinical Trial,” by Dr. Allison Goldfine, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, April 24, 2015. http://press.endocrine.org/doi/10.1210/jc.2015-1443

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