A hundred years since insulin was discovered in 1921, it remains a key milestone in the field of diabetes care as the condition was long considered to be untreatable and fatal prior to insulin use.
“The discovery of insulin marked a turning point that changed the lives of countless diabetes patients,” said Dr. Amal Makhloufi Benchouk, Country Lead of Sanofi Philippines.
As one of the leading companies specializing in the treatment of chronic diseases, Sanofi has a storied history of supporting people living with diabetes and providing innovative and holistic solutions.
“The story of insulin is one of progress and is interwoven with our own: from the landmark discovery of insulin, a century ago, we’ve been a pioneering power behind its success as a transformative treatment for diabetes,” she added.
To mark the 100th anniversary of insulin discovery, Sanofi has initiated various programs and partnerships to improve access to care for patients with diabetes:
– Empower program, a patient support program that provides continuous care and medical education for persons with diabetes, as well as diabetes educators who will stay in constant touch and do weekly check-ins;
– INSPIRE program, a capacity-building program for healthcare professionals especially in primary care, making training available digitally to improve access to information;
– Launching WeHealth, an eHealth ecosystem that connects patients and doctors as we navigate the new normal; and
– Pursuing initial discussions for collaborations with leading healthcare organizations such as Ayala Healthcare to improve the accessibility of insulin for diabetes patients.
“We are making innovative health solutions more accessible,” Amal said. “We endeavor to upscale the diabetes treatment from human insulin to newer analogue insulin by significantly improving affordability.”
However despite the advances in insulinization and diabetes treatments, the prevalence of diabetes continued to increase at an alarming rate all over the world.
In the Philippines, diabetes is among the top 10 leading causes of death among Filipinos and the numbers continue to rise, Amal said.
“There are about 3.7 million diabetic Filipinos, and this number is expected to double in the next 5 years. Among them, only 34 percent are diagnosed, 27 percent are treated and only 11 percent are on insulin. Among those treated, less than 50 percent are able to manage or control their disease,” she said.
“Globally, we see a huge number of people with diabetes. This number will increase from 463 million today to 700 million in 2045. That’s 1 out of 11 adults who have the condition. Majority of people with diabetes live in low and middle income countries. All over the world, 1 life is lost every 7 seconds because of diabetes and its complications.” she added.
Amal cited a well-documented stigma towards insulinization that influences patients to delay or forgo treatment, potentially affecting their quality of life in the long-term.
“The fear of insulin is usually because of two things: first, the fear of injections and needles; and second, the idea that insulin is reserved as a last resort treatment for diabetes in the advanced stages,” she said.
Research has shown, though, that controlling high blood sugar sooner leads to better outcomes and reduces risks of complications such as blindness, amputations, heart disease and stroke in people with type 2 diabetes. There is benefit in giving insulin early, depending on the patient’s needs.
“With the advancements and newer technology developed for insulin pens, in this day and age, injecting insulin has become easier, more convenient and less painful,” said Amal.
“More importantly, the discovery of insulin proved that diabetes is not a sentence and you can write your story. So let’s keep the story going, for another 100 years and beyond.”