Shire tackles diabetes from the bottom up

Shire tackles diabetes from the bottom up
Shire tackles diabetes from the bottom up

The complications that often come to mind with diabetes are things like controlling your blood sugar, kidney problems and retina damage. But neuropathy, the disease's impact on the nervous system, is a serious and sometimes overlooked problem. The American Diabetes Associations estimates that 60-70% of diabetics have mild to severe nervous system damage.

And for Shire, that percentage underscored a need for education. The drugmaker is now focusing its efforts on newly launched website,, an online resource for people and communities afflicted with diabetes and diabetic foot ulcers (DFU). A study published in JAMA estimates that 25% of people with diabetes will eventually suffer from a DFU. 

“When Shire first entered the diabetic foot ulcer market, we realized that so much was lacking in the way of education and awareness,” Bernis Gabelman, manager, market development, for the regenerative business unit at Shire, tells MM&M. “Patients with complications such as diabetic foot ulcers were at times ending up at a hospital with an infected wound before ever making it to a specialist.”

Shire's offerings include DERMAGRAFT, a treatment for DFUs, which works to facilitate the body's own  healing process by placing a “human dermal substitute” over the wound. HealTogether, though, is an independent program.

The unbranded website boasts a DFU risk assessment tool, knowledge center, patient testimonials (pictured) and a specialist locator. The four videos—“You're Not Alone”—are meant to strike an emotional chord. Patient interviews are accompanied by soft music in the background as they discuss the ways diabetes, and its complications, affect their lives. The project was a collaboration between Shire and Incubate, a digital shop based out of Southern California and Mexico. 

Gabelman notes that “HealTogether has received 20,000 visits to the website per month," and has also "received industry awards recognizing the site's creative design and development.” This year HealTogether was recognized as the 2013 Winner of the Graphic Design USA, American web design award.

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