WHO launches first-ever insulin prequalification programme to expand access to life-saving treatment for diabetes

  • Published | 15 November 2019

Global: The World Health Organization (WHO) announced the launch of a pilot scheme to prequalify human insulin in order to boost diabetes treatment in low-and middle-income countries. The decision, announced on Wednesday before World Diabetes Day (November 14), is part of a series of steps that will be taken by WHO to address the expanding burden of diabetes in all regions. Approximately 65 million people with type 2 diabetes need insulin, but only half can access it, largely due to various high prices. In order to survive, all people with type 1 diabetes require insulin. Data collected by WHO in 2016-2019 from 24 countries on four continents showed that human insulin was available only in 61% of health facilities and analogue insulins in 13%.

Increasing the flow of quality-assured drugs on the international market, providing countries with greater choice and patients with lower prices is expected to improve access to insulin prequalification by the WHO. About 420 million people are living with diabetes. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death and a primary cause of expensive and debilitating complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and amputations of lower limbs. People with type 1 diabetes need insulin to survive and maintain levels of blood glucose to reduce the risk of common abnormalities such as blindness and failure of the kidney. People with type 2 diabetes need insulin for controlling blood glucose levels to avoid complications when oral medicines become less effective as the illness progresses.

Insulin prequalification is one of several steps that WHO will take to address the burden of diabetes in the coming year. Plans are underway to upgrade guidelines for diabetes treatment, develop analog reduction in price strategies, and improve delivery systems and access to diagnostics. WHO is also collaborating with countries to encourage healthier diets and physical activity to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes among people. The data showed that a month’s supply of insulin would cost a worker in Accra, Ghana, the equivalent of 5.5 days of pay per month, or 22 per cent of his/her earnings.

According to BlueWeave Consulting, Increased geriatric population and enhanced diabetes prevalence globally due to the increased obesity, urbanization, poor nutrition and poor health conditions in some developing and underdeveloped countries. The injectable sector witnessed massive growth due to increased diabetes prevalence, increased geriatric population, and high self-care demand. In fact, both Type-I and Type-II diabetes can be injected, while OAD is predominantly used for Type-II diabetes. There has been a drastic increase in the incidents of diabetes worldwide, owing to the rising level of sedentary lifestyles and obesity in global population.

It is anticipated that submarkets such as human insulin and analogs will retain control in the overall market for diabetes treatment. Treatment services for diabetes include injectable diabetes medications, oral medication, insulin injections, insulin pumps, insulin injection devices, and monitoring systems for blood glucose. In addition, large numbers of new diabetes drugs are being clinically tested by drug manufacturers expected to reach the market within the 2019-2025 forecast period.