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Diabetics will soon, along with the jab of a syringe, have to bear the spike in the cost of medicines

The number of diabetics in the country(india) is expected to touch 50.8 million (around 5 crores in a population of 100 crores roughly 5%) by this year and with drug companies threatening to up the prices of medicines like insulin, the cost of treatment is likely to double in the next few months. Doctors worry this will hamper the patients who are trying to fence back the surging sugar levels. 

 
 


Diabetics will soon, along with the jab of a syringe, have to bear the spike in the cost of medicines



In a study that began in September 2009, a team of doctors from the MV Hospital for Diabetes in Royapuram screened more than 4,500 residents, including 1,050 diabetics. It was found that on an average, the minimum annual expenditure of a newly diagnosed diabetic, who has been prescribed only tablets for controlling sugar, was Rs 15,550. It includes costs of drugs and laboratory tests. If the person has hypertension and cholesterol, the cost increases by at least Rs 2,000. 

"This is if they use the cheapest drug in the market. But many are prescribed drugs of a higher price and quality. The most prescribed and efficient drug costs Rs 40 a tablet, which puts the annual cost at Rs 40,900," said diabetologist Dr Vijay Vishwanath, who spearheaded the study. "If the patient is on insulin, even the cheapest drug will cost him Rs 400 a month, while others could cost up to Rs 1,800 a month. 
Now, with drug companies threatening to raise costs by another 10-15%, the situation could worsen," he said. Already, one of the companies has raised the price of insulin from Rs 135 to Rs 147 and another has decided to increase it from Rs 155 to Rs 170. 

Senior diabetologists worry that it could jeopardise the health of patients. "When pharma companies introduced human insulin (in place of animal insulin) more than a decade ago, they promised that the cost would come down in a decade. The demand for insulin has soared and the disorder itself has increased six-fold in the last three decades. The burden would be huge if the price rise continues as the country is the world diabetes capital," Dr V Mohan said. "I think there is an urgent need for the government to intervene and help people in these circumstances," he said. 

To cut costs, doctors said many patients were bypassing routine lab tests, upsetting their sugar management. Dr A Ramachandran of Ramachandran’s Diabetes Hospital in Egmore said, "The problem begins when people skip vital laboratory tests to save money. This can derail the entire treatment protocol. For instance, blood test should be done every month, while HbA1C test, which gives the average sugar levels for weeks, should be done every three months. We know many of our patients don’t do that." 

The research also analysed how patients bear the treatment expenses. Nearly 61% of the people — aged between 24 and 70 — used their personal savings for treatment of the disorder and nearly 23% depended on loans. "The disorder is now as common as cold," said epidemiologist Dr Shabana Tharkar of the MV Hospital for Diabetes. "We found that many who are unable to afford the medicines were skipping them. Eventually, many ended up with complications and required hospitalisation. While some of them required dialysis due to kidney failure, some had their lower limbs amputated," she said. 



 
 

Subramanian Arunachalam, 45, was first diagnosed with the disorder when he was 35. "Both my parents are diabetics. I earn Rs 15,000 a month and more than 60% of my salary goes for medication. Due to the rising cost of medication, we are always discussing who can skip medication. It’s disturbing," he said. Fortunately, none in his family has complications of diabetes. 

But that was not the case with Rama Mani, a 57-year-old, who had to take voluntary retirement from a nationalised bank. "My muscles are weak. I have developed vision problems. I suffered two fractures and I had to shell out close to Rs 80,000 each time for hospital stay and treatment," she said. 

Studies on hospital records by M V Hospital have also shown that treatment for admissions to hospitals for one day — for instances like sudden low sugar – can cost anywhere between Rs 2,500 and Rs 17,095. 

The cost of admissions in a private hospitals for diseases due to kidney failure can range from Rs 4,500 to Rs 57,000 depending on the number of hospital days. 

Comment from DR. PRAVEEN RAMACHANDRA: as rapid cultural changes in indian society especially with regards to food habits.....which not neccesarily improved with equally improved economic conditions.....indian endocrinologists are about face a very tough challenges sooon :-(
 
Ray of hope:" However many more(huge number) of pharma companies to are coming forward to manufacture diabetes related drugs....which infact decrease the cost of treatment of diabetes
 
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