On the occasion of the centenary of insulin, the NGO Santé Diabète and the Observatory for Transparency in Drug Policies (OTMeds) announce a partnership around access to vital drugs and health products (antidiabetics and monitoring tools) for people with diabetes, and for better public health policies, including transparency in medicines research and development (R&D) and marketing.
Paris & Grenoble, October 12, 2020 – As is the case for many drugs and health products used in the management of infectious diseases and other non-communicable diseases, the lack of transparency in the drug supply chain has significant consequences on the access to care for people with diabetes. For a person with diabetes requiring insulin management, lack of this medication for one single day can be fatal and cost them their life. This is why our organisations have decided to combine our respective expertise on diabetes and access to insulin (Santé Diabète) and on medication issues; price, intellectual property, production, and the consequences of a lack of transparency (OTMeds). The implementation of public health policies allowing access for all to quality care and access to life-saving medicines seems to us to be one of the major challenges for the years to come, in France, Mali, Burkina Faso, the Comoros and everywhere else around the world.
In November 2019, our two organizations notably worked together to ask the French government to implement transparency across the entire drug supply chain as part of the « PLFSS » (social security budget bill) for 2020.
In January 2020, we co-wrote a column published in the newspaper Le Monde on the consequences of the lack of transparency regarding access to the latest therapeutic innovations and public policies.
In 2019, 422 million people around the world were living with diabetes according to the World Health Organization (WHO). According to projections made by the International Diabetes Federation, more than 628 million people will be affected by diabetes in 2045, an increase attributable in particular to lifestyles changes, the strong growth in urbanization, increasing sedentary lifestyle and food issues. In 2019, 8 out of 10 people with diabetes lived in low and middle-income countries, countries in which barriers to access to insulin represent a major obstacle to treatment. In Africa, a child’s life expectancy after being diagnosed with diabetes is just 8 months.
However, insulin, is a century-old treatment, which was initially developed within the framework of the public University of Toronto, and for which, its two inventors had asked that no profit be made. Far from having respected the wishes of these two inventors, the three firms which today share the world market for insulin apply prices which make this treatment out of reach, including for instance in the United States, or which weigh heavily on health insurance in a country like France.
Access to insulin is therefore today a global public health issue. A resolution will be presented to the World Health Assembly (WHA) in May 2021 on the occasion of this centenary. This resolution should be an opportunity for the international community to realize the importance of managing diabetes. This awareness is all the more important in the context we are going through: a large proportion of people who die from COVID also have diabetes. The articulation of the response to infectious diseases along with non-communicable diseases is therefore critical.
Our organizations will therefore pool our experiences and expertise to make access to insulin a priority. Moreover, starting from the observation that the consequences of the opacity surrounding the insulin market are representative of those we see more generally for other pathologies and other drugs, transparency on all aspects of the chain supply of medicine therefore represents an urgent need to guide public health policies – public policies without conflicts of interest. These different elements will constitute the main axes of the collaboration of our two organizations.