POTUS: I don't use insulin. Should I?

POTUS: I don't use insulin. Should I?

A bizarre moment popped up yesterday while the President was making an announcement in the Rose Garden about a new initiative aimed at capping drug prices. Earlier in the proceedings, the subject of the cost and availability of insulin for diabetics had come up. And then, seemingly unprompted by anyone, Trump took one of his characteristic trips off of the prepared script and mused about whether or not he should be taking insulin. Fortunately, he immediately handed off the microphone to the Surgeon General for some clarification. (NY Post)

“I don’t use insulin. Should I be? Huh? I never thought about it, but I know a lot of people are very badly affected,” Trump said at the event.

A reporter asked Trump a short time later if there was a medical reason why someone who doesn’t have diabetes would take insulin.

“Let’s get these highly paid executives up here to give the answer,” Trump replied, ultimately asking Surgeon General Jerome Adams for an explanation.

“Your body, Mr. President, actually makes insulin endogenously and people such as you and I, we make our own insulin. So yes we do utilize insulin, but we make it ourselves,” Adams said, indirectlty saying there was no reason for Trump to be taking the drug.

“Ah!” Trump said.

Before you jump all over me for bringing this up, let’s just be honest about this. We frequently have a lot of fun here point out and poking fun at the endless train of gaffes that Joe Biden churns out whenever he emerges from his bunker or goes on camera. But turnabout is fair play, so we shouldn’t exempt anyone – even the President – from the same type of chuckles. And this was pretty funny.

To his credit, Dr. Jerome Adams did an admirable job of trying to offer Trump some cover by explaining that he does, in fact, “use” insulin already. It’s just that the President’s body produces enough of it for his needs without external help. He was obviously trying to deflect away from the original question and point out that all human beings use insulin.

I’ll also concede that Donald Trump is not a doctor and there’s no record of any sort of formal medical training on his resume. So there’s no default assumption that he should have known that. But… really?

Perhaps I’m off base on this one, but I’d been under the impression that pretty much anyone who has been out and about in the world knew that people with more severe forms of diabetes take insulin. After all, the CDC reports that roughly 100 million Americans have either diabetes or prediabetes, though thankfully only a small percentage have such severe symptoms that they require regular insulin treatments.

I don’t think this would have turned into even this much of a media story if President Trump hadn’t previously indicated that he’d been taking hydroxychloroquine despite not having any symptoms of COVID-19 nor testing positive for the novel coronavirus. (He recently stopped taking it.) It just makes him sound as if he’s making his own medical decisions without consulting his doctors.

Yes, this isn’t that big of a deal in the end and will likely not be worth more than a brief chuckle. But in the unlikely event that any of you reading this start getting any ideas, don’t go out and start looking for insulin dealers on the street corners without getting a checkup first. Too much insulin can potentially kill you even faster than not having enough.

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