Tanner’s Take: Diabetic Discussions in Denmark!

Tanner Barton

Written By: Tanner Barton | @Tan_Man_Barton
Member of Ball State Men’s Swimming
Spokesperson for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

Rewind (almost) 12 years ago. I was newly diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D). I was scared, afraid and alone. I didn’t want to embrace the disease. Heck, I even remember giving myself shots underneath the dinner table because I didn’t want others to know of my T1D.

As I continued to mature, cope and embrace my diagnosis, I remember hearing my late grandfather say that I would be a difference-maker in the diabetic community.

I never believed him. Grandfathers always say the best things to motivate their grandsons, to inspire their grandsons. Although I have been on various international diabetic committees for the past three years, I never fully believed my grandpa… until my recent summer adventures in Copenhagen, Denmark.

I had the privilege of presenting at the 2015 Novo Nordisk International Research and Development Communicators’ Summit in August.

Novo Nordisk leads all pharmaceutical companies in insulin sales, the life-saving treatment for all T1D. The financial figures and daily shipments attest to the company’s success; however, they strive to be innovative. They strive to be the best in all aspects, so it’s only natural to wonder where they can further improve…

Patient engagement. The answer lies in patient centricity.

Nowadays, pharmaceutical companies strictly refer to me as Tanner Barton, the diabetic who administers a daily average of 60 insulin units.   Well, thank you for focusing on the chronic disease that already controls my life.

As a customer, shouldn’t I feel respected? Shouldn’t I feel valued? This classification comes across as superficial, and I surely don’t feel respected or valued.

Ball State student-athlete Tanner Barton presenting to Novo Nordisk employees in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Ball State student-athlete Tanner Barton presenting to Novo Nordisk employees in Copenhagen, Denmark.

In my opinion, and in the eyes of others afflicted by T1D, pharmaceutical companies need to treat us individuals as patients. Show me that you want to learn more about Tanner Barton, the personable student-athlete who loves coaching young swimmers, spending time with family and laughing with friends.

As the identified strategic patient advocate, I shared these views with Novo Nordisk. I traveled to Copenhagen to share the truths, to illustrate how individuals and pharmaceutical companies can both benefit from enhancing patient engagement.

And as I arrive back in the United States and start the new semester at Ball State, I am excited and hopeful. The summit went very well, and the future is bright.

I look forward to collaborating with Novo Nordisk in the future. Stay connected to chirpcitybsu.com to learn more about inevitable progress 🙂


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