Making insulin more accessible to all

    Dr. Christiane Hamacher

    Insulin works by controlling blood sugar, so for people who have diabetes, this hormone is essential, with almost all Type 1 diabetics and some Type 2 diabetics requiring a daily injection to manage their blood sugar levels. However, insulin can be expensive for many. Biocon Biologics is hoping to make it easier for Filipinos to get their insulin needs with its “Mission 10 cents” program.

    “In the run-up to the 100th anniversary of insulin, we at Biocon Biologics unveiled our ‘Mission 10 cents’ program to unlock universal access to high quality human insulin, guided by the conviction that a lifesaving product like insulin needs to be accessible to patients globally, both in emerging and developed countries. Biocon’s Chairperson, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, had made the ‘Mission 10 cents’ announcement for LMICs countries at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) side meeting on innovation and universal health access convened by UNAIDS Health Innovation Exchange, last year,” Biocon Biologics CEO and Managing Director Dr. Christiane Hamacher said.

    She added that while insulin production is expensive, the company has been able to lower costs through efficient production processes in large-scale manufacturing facilities that allow them to take advantage of the economies of scale.

    “Our 40-year legacy of being on the cutting edge of science has enabled us to come up with a differentiated technology, enabling us to produce human insulin in a cost-effective manner using an efficient optimized process. We have also built global scale manufacturing capacities, which has enabled us to take advantage of the economies of scale and produce our insulins cost-effectively. We have built one of Asia’s largest bio-manufacturing facilities for insulins in Bangalore, India and in Malaysia, which helps us realize the benefits of economies of scale,” Hamacher noted.

    The biopharmaceutical firm has tied up with tech social enterprise reach52 to offer a comprehensive community-based diabetes care plan to patients in the Philippines. Under the partnership, reach52 will help manage the ordering, distribution, out-of-pocket payments and supply chain for Biocon Biologics’ rh-insulin. Patients can order the products through reach52, who place an order after a prescription is received. They pick up the insulin and deliver back to patients in their communities

    The program started rolling out in Cuartero, Capiz and Pototan, Iloilo and its success has prompted Biocon Biologics to start talks with the government and other partners-on-the-ground in order to expand its reach. The company aims to develop a scalable framework for comprehensive, high quality and affordable continuum of care solutions for diabetes management in the Philippines. This project will contribute to improving municipal as well as national monitoring indicators for diabetes by increasing early diagnosis; reduction in burden of disease and morbidity; and lowering out-of-pocket expenditure on diabetes management in the Philippines.

    “This initiative is part of our larger commitment to support low and middle-income countries build a sustainable healthcare ecosystem that enables equitable access to insulins. We are aware of the challenges associated with the affordability of insulin therapy even after 100 years of its discovery and are collaborating with like-minded partners to ensure pricing does not impede access for patients who need this life-saving therapy. We aspire to co-create with our partners a patient ecosystem that goes beyond the product to transform the lives of millions of diabetes patients globally,” Hamacher shared.