Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Opportunity knocks: diabetes grows globally

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Type 2 diabetes has previously been associated with obese people in the U.S and other rich countries, but it's beginning to hit the developing world hard, with 80 percent of sufferers in low and middle income brackets, according to the International Diabetes Federation.

A report in the British newspaper the Telegraph suggests that as poorer countries rapidly urbanize and experience other changes to traditional diet and ways of life, type 2 diabetes will become a much bigger problem. In the next 20 years, diabetes is expected to soar by 80 percent in Africa and 100 percent in Latin America, while growth in the US will be 43 percent, according to the same report. And, this year, diabetes will kill about 3.8 million people worldwide, about the same amount that will die of AIDS.

Bad news you say? Well, not if you're an insulin or diabetes drug manufacturer. "Diabetes is growing fastest in Africa, Asia and Latin America," said Lars Rebien Sorensen, chief executive of Novo Nordisk, the world's largest maker of insulin. "At the same time we are seeing pressure on the US health care system, where there could be price controls. That is going to put pressure on global growth."
A recent market analysis by the business research firm RNCOS pointed out that the growing number of diabetes patients around the world will drive the market for diabetes drugs. The report also notes 246 million people had diabetes worldwide in 2006 and 380 million are expected to have the disease by 2025. In addition, the global insulin market will reach $14.5 billion by 2010, up from $7.5 billion in 2005.

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In the Telegraph report, one UK doctor said foundations such as the one set up by former President Bill Clinton are beginning to show an interest in creating a global fund to pay for diabetes medicines, much like what has been done for malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS medicines. "There is an urgent need for a global fund for diabetes," he said.
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