What Makes a Product Safe for Diabetics?


I’ll just say it. I love CVS brand Assorted Fruit glucose tablets. The ones in the blue bottle. So does Gary. He doesn’t have diabetes, but munches on them nevertheless. I was visiting my parents recently and I drove to CVS to pick up a few bottles. I guess I hadn’t been to that particular CVS in a while because little did I know there was a section called “Diabetes Testing.”

I was excited, baffled, and disturbed all at the same time.

The diabetes section made it easy for me to find my glucose tablets. But somehow I felt like something was wrong. My disease – my complicated, private, serious disease – was hangin’ out in CVS next to Sleep and Snoring Aids. Is diabetes really that common? That casual? I know that type 2 diabetes is occurring in epidemic proportions, but still.

I wanted to grab my g-tabs and pay, but I was stuck in the aisle. It was more than glucose meters. I was taken by the assortment of miscellaneous products. They were supposedly for me… diabetic this, diabetic that… I had to look closer.

First I picked up a box of Diabetic Tussin. It was marked “Safe for Diabetics.” Phew.

Then I found Neoteric Diabetic Skin Care Shampoo and Scalp Care. It was “Formulated for the hair care needs of persons living with diabetes.”

I learned that if you need “relief of diabetic foot pain,” you can buy Zostrix Diabetic. Or, go for Barefoot Repair! “Kit contains a pair of diabetic socks.” I’ve never worn diabetic socks but they sounded tempting.

I also discovered Diabeti-Derm Antifungal Cream.

Finally, I picked up Men’s Ankle Socks and Ladies’ Crew Socks. They were marked “Treated to resist bacterial odors.”

I understand that companies are marketing to the very large population of people with diabetes. And I’m sure these are fine products. But what is the magical ingredient that makes them special for people with diabetes? Couldn’t people without diabetes benefit from them too? Is diabetic fungus really much different than the fungus of someone with a working pancreas? And on the flip side, if my scalp were dry, couldn’t I buy a bottle of Head and Shoulders in the regular shampoo aisle and call it a day? Maybe I’m naïve. But these were the questions that were swirling through my head.    

For better or for worse, the “Diabetes Testing” section painted an interesting picture of diabetes: one that marks us a different. One that says, Hey, these people get their own aisle! And their own socks!   


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Scott K. Johnson
9 years ago

It is an interesting feeling, isn’t it? It almost gets under my skin because it’s such an overt marketing thing. We’re not so different! :-)

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