According to study findings published in Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, patients in low- and middle-income countries may have a harder time finding and affording essential diabetes drugs than those who live in wealthier countries, as reported in Channel News Asia.
In the study, investigators examined data collected in pharmacies and from surveys of more than 156 000 people, ages 35 to 70 years, in 604 communities across 22 countries. Researchers looked at metformin and insulin, as well as combination therapy with these drugs and other diabetes medications.
Results showed that metformin was available in all of the pharmacies they checked in high-income countries and in India, but it was stocked in only 65 percent of other low-income countries excluding India. Moreover, the drug was affordable for more than 99 percent of patients in wealthier nations, compared with 73 percent in poor countries.
Insulin was available in 94 percent of pharmacies in high-income countries, in 76 percent of pharmacies in India, and in only about 10 percent of pharmacies in low-income countries excluding India. However, roughly three percent of households in high-income countries and 63 percent of households in low-income countries could not afford insulin, the study found.
Moreover, among the approximately 14 000 patients in the study with diabetes, 74 percent of those living in high-income countries took medications to manage the condition, versus 30 percent of patients in low-income countries.
The findings provide fresh evidence of the need to improve global access to diabetes medicines, particularly with insulin, commented Alessandra Ferrario, author of an accompanying editorial.