Faizel Patel, Radio Islam News – 14-11-2019
As the world acknowledges World Diabetes Day on Thursday overly expensive insulin could be a thing of the past for millions of diabetics under a plan launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) to diversify production globally.
Announcing the initiative in Geneva on Wednesday, the UN agency says that it has already had informal expressions of interest from pharmaceutical companies looking to produce insulin and have WHO assess whether it is safe for people to use.
In some countries, prices are so prohibitive that some people are forced to ration their insulin.
This leaves them susceptible to heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and lower limb amputations.
While diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death globally in 2016, WHO medical officer and diabetes expert Dr Gojka Roglic says the finding is only worrying because the disease kills people prematurely.
“Diabetes is a massive health issue and a big public health problem because of the sheer numbers of people with diabetes. There are over four hundred million people that have diabetes in the world and the burden has been rising rapidly in the last 30 years particularly in lower and middle income countries.”
Roglic says insulin is expensive because there is a limited number of companies that are commercializing it and have control over the price setting.
“If we bring new entrants into the market, we hope to expand the competition and this will have an impact on prices and will mean that more patients particularly in in low and middle income countries have access to the insulin that they need to survive.”
Data collected by WHO from 24 countries on four continents showed that human insulin was available only in 61 per cent of health facilities.