On the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin, the World Health Organization has called for the treatment, mainly produced by three pharmaceutical companies, to be sold at affordable prices in the face of the increasing burden of diabetes in the world. </p><div> <p>On this anniversary, the World Health Organization launched a global charter against diabetes that aims to reduce the risk of developing it and enable all people who suffer from it to obtain treatment and care at affordable prices.
The Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, noted in a statement that “the need for urgent action in the matter of diabetes is becoming clearer than ever.”
He pointed out that “the number of people with diabetes has quadrupled during the last forty years,” noting that “it is the only major non-contagious disease in which the risk of premature death increases rather than decreases.”
Ghebreyesus considered that it is very important to address this crisis in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, because a high percentage of patients who are hospitalized with severe symptoms of the Corona virus are those suffering from diabetes.
The number of deaths related to the disease has increased by 70 percent since the year 2000, and reached about one and a half million annually. More than 420 million people suffer from diabetes, most of whom live in developing countries. Overweight and obesity are two factors contributing to the sharp increase recorded in recent decades.
Diabetes is considered a chronic disease and occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, a hormone that regulates the level of sugar in the blood, or when the body does not use the insulin it produces properly.
‘A failure of society’
Although insulin was discovered a hundred years ago, many diabetics struggle to obtain insulin because of its price, despite the abundance of quantities on offer. Almost single-handedly, three manufacturers dominate the global market, namely Ilay Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi, and thus set the prices that the World Health Organization considers prohibitive for many individuals and countries.
With this in mind, in 2019 the World Health Organization launched a prequalification program for other companies’ products. The organization explained that it is in discussions with insulin manufacturers about ways to meet the increasing demand “at prices that countries can afford.” “The fact that people who need insulin face financial difficulties in purchasing it is a failure of the community and the international community,” the WHO Director-General said.
The price of insulin is a barrier to treatment in most low- and middle-income countries, but also in rich countries, especially those with weak social protection systems.
In the United States, for example, where public health coverage is very limited, diabetics have set up a free black market for insulin and meet in parking lots to exchange exorbitant drugs at pharmacies. In the north of the country, other patients go so far as to obtain supplies from Canadian pharmacies, as Canada sets a ceiling on insulin prices.
However, insulin has been on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines since its publication in 1977. MSF noted in a statement that “only half of people who need this essential drug globally can access it today due to difficult storage requirements and complex treatment protocols. And the high prices. ” She added that “Ilay Lilly”, “Novo Nordisk” and “Sanofi” dominate the global market “and often raise their prices one by one, and this situation is disappointing.”