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A History of Diabetes at the Rockefeller Archive Center: The Development of Oral Hypoglycaemic Drugs and the UGDP DebateDecember 3, 2021
With very generous research funding provided by the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC), I was able to travel from Scotland in early August 2018. This was my first trip to the RAC, as well as my first time in the United States. Having just finished up at a three-month internship at the Scottish government, I was thrilled to be granted time and financial support for archival research. This report presents a summary of my time at the RAC and how the material I accessed there has supported my thesis. For those interested in the history of pharmacy in the second half of the twentieth century, or specifically the history of diabetes, this report provides an overview of the history of the development of the first oral anti-diabetic agents. It highlights the debate that followed one of the most contentious medical trials in the history of medicine, the University Group Diabetes Program.
Every day, millions of Americans prick their fingertips, feed blood into a glucose meter, and adjust their diet in a ritual to stay healthy. This is the diabetic way of life, what many older diabetics call having the "sweet blood." And it has become an American way of life, affecting about one in ten people with rates among minorities and the poor in double-digit percentages. The complications are serious and deadly—neuropathy, blindness, cardiovascular disease, and renal failure—with total costs around $245 billion for 2014 alone. Dr. Frank Vinicor, former American Diabetes Association president, has called diabetes "the Rodney Dangerfield of diseases": expensive to treat, hard to manage, and easy to ridicule.
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