Lantus is low-cost diabetes medication for low-income Filipinos

Low-cost diabetes medication for low-income Filipinos
By Walter Ang
June 30, 2009
Manila Bulletin

A new program that aims to deliver diabetes medication at a lower cost to low-income Filipinos was launched by pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis with the Institute for Studies on Diabetes Foundation (ISDF) of the University of the East-Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center (UERMMMC).

Titled "Innovation for Life," the program created by Sanofi-Aventis specifically for patients in developing countries to allow increased access to Lantus, an injectible insulin glargine medication that helps control blood sugar levels in the body. The Philippines is the first country in the world where the program will be implemented.

Diabetes is one of the ten leading causes of death for millions of Filipinos. Estimates reveal that by 2025, about eight percent of the total Philippine population will be afflicted by the disease. Globally, diabetes is estimated to be the cause of six percent of deaths, amounting to 3.8 million lives lost every year.

Diabetes is characterized by increased blood sugar levels and is associated with long term health complications such as damage and failure of the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and heart. Diabetes occurs either when insulin (which controls sugar levels in the body) is not adequately produced by the pancreas or when the body cannot properly use insulin.

Lantus is injected only once a day as it releases insulin into the body over 24 hours. In the initial stages of Innovation for Life, the lowered-price Lantus vials will be made available to the patients of ISDF. Established in 1989, the foundation is the country's first research institute devoted to the study of diabetes mellitus and improvement of its treatment. Located in Marikina, it averages a hundred patients every Saturday.

Dr. Ricardo Fernando, ISDF founder, said, "We're happy that Sanofi-Aventis understands the difficulties and cost burden that patients face when coping with diabetes. Through the program, ISDF can help ensure that the greatest number of patients who are in need can now have access to diabetes health care."

Dr. Benedict Blayney, Sanofi-Aventis Asia Pacific Medical Affairs Vice President, noted that since diabetes is a life-long disease, the program is envisioned to provide low-cost medication to its recipients "for as long as they need it." The company projects that thousands of low-income patients will benefit from the program. After ISDF, Innovation for Life may possibly be implemented in government and military hospitals.

Also published online: