Diabetes in the U.S. is continuing to rise at an alarming rate, fueled in large part by the obesity epidemic and our increasingly sedentary lifestyles and poor diets. Every year, more than 1.6 million Americans develop diabetes—joining the ranks of the more than 28 million Americans who already have the disease.
First they told her she had Alzheimer’s disease. Next they suggested that the medications they had prescribed to control her anxiety and depression were the cause. Then they told her it was Parkinson’s. It was years before doctors finally figured out what was making Susan Grant’s mind slip away.
When the AIDS epidemic first shook the nation in the 1980s, no one with the virus was expected to live long—let alone reach old age. But thanks to the discovery of effective drug therapies, most people with the disease can now look forward to living well into their senior years. Add to that the fact that older Americans are becoming newly infected at an alarming rate, and HIV/AIDS is clearly no longer a problem for the young.
What does a tongue depressor have in common with an artificial knee and a heart monitor? This is not trick question or an unsolvable riddle—all three are medical devices that must go through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval. Many of us are exposed to medical devices on a regular basis but few of us give much thought to who develops these products, and even fewer take the time to consider how their benefits and safety were measured. The process by which these products are evaluated and allowed for public use is essential to the quality of life of millions of people in the U.S., however most Americans know very little about it.