Diabetes: Better than hedge funds 7. March 2011 William Davis (23) Diabetes is where the action is. While, for virtually all of history, type 2 diabetes was an uncommon condition of adults, the disease has spread so much to all levels of American society that even kids are now developing the adult form. Researchers from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention predict that, by 2050, one in three adults will be diabetic. The diabetes market is booming, handily surpassing growth of the oil industry, the housing market, even technology. It makes Bernie Madoff’s billions look like small potatoes. In health, few markets are growing as fast as diabetes—-not osteoporosis, not heart disease, not cancer. Americans are getting fat from carbohydrate consumption, becoming diabetic along with it. While kids hanging around the convenience store gulp down 26 teaspoons of sugar in 32-ounce sodas and 56-grams-of-sugar in 16-ounce frozen ices, health-minded adults are more likely eating two slices of 6-teaspoons sugar-equivalent “healthy whole grain” bread, wondering why last year’s jeans are too tight. The U.S. is not the only nation affected. Globally, 2.8% of the world’s population are diabetic, a number expected to double over the next 20 years. Pharmaceutical companies boast double-digit growth for diabetes drugs, growth rates that keep profit-hungry investors happy. Merck’s Januvia, for instance, introduced in 2006, recently catalogued 30% growth in sales, with annual sales approaching $1 billion. Recently FDA-approved Victoza, requiring once-a-day injection, is expected to reap $4 billion in sales per year for manufacturer Novo Nordisk. Such numbers can only warm a drug company CEO’s heart. Most diabetics don’t just take one medication, but several. A typical regimen for an adult diabetic after a couple of years of treatment and following the dietary advice of the American Diabetes Association includes metformin, Januvia, and Actos, a triple-drug treatment that costs around $420 per month. Two forms of insulin (slow- and fast-acting), along with two or three oral medications, is not at all uncommon. “Collateral” revenues from the other health conditions that develop from a diet rich in “healthy whole grains,” such as drugs for hypertension, drugs to slow the progression of kidney disease in diabetes, drugs for “high cholesterol,” and drugs for high triglycerides, and you have a pharmaceutical drug bonanza. You, too, would throw all-expenses-paid, fly-the-entire-sales-force-to-the-Caribbean sales meetings. The global diabetes market has already topped $25 billion and is growing at double-digit rates. Forget the Internet, gold stocks, or solar energy—-diabetes is where the money is. This fact has not been lost on the very market-savvy pharmaceutical industry. As with any successful business, they have devoted substantial resources to develop and grow this booming business.