WASHINGTON, D.C.: It may be America's fourth leading cause of death. But when it comes to raking in big research bucks, diabetes has been treated as seriously as the common cold. Not any more. Eager to keep a handle on health issues, not to mention his ability to feel voters' pain, President Clinton has announced a $2.4 billion federal program for diabetes research and health care over the next five years.
And not a moment too soon. For each of the country's estimated 16 million diabetics, the Government spends just $20 on research into a cure -- a fraction of the amount spent on AIDS and heart disease, even though these diseases afflict far fewer Americans.
But somehow the news gets lost in the telling. Unlike AIDS or cancer, medical researchers know how to treat diabetes, says TIME's Christine Gorman. This tends to diminish the disease's big-name appeal. Nonetheless, today's hefty grant at least puts diabetes in the running for a cure.