This year marks the centenary of the discovery of insulin, the main treatment for diabetes, and human insulin has been included in the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines since it was first published in 1977. However, many diabetics find it difficult to obtain insulin because of its price.
The organization noted, for example, that “the amount of insulin needed for one month costs a worker in Accra, the capital of Ghana, the equivalent of 5.5 days’ wages per month.”
The organization explained that the inclusion of insulin analogues in the list of essential medicines means that these treatments can benefit from the prequalification program for medicines of the World Health Organization, which would increase the supply in the market and reduce prices.
Three manufacturers almost single-handedly dominate the global market, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi, and thus set prices that the World Health Organization considers prohibitive for many individuals and countries.
On Friday, the non-governmental organization Doctors Without Borders praised the decision of the World Health Organization and considered the need to do more to reduce the prices of diabetes medicines.
Candice Sihoma, MSF’s director for South Africa, called on the World Health Organization and governments to “require pharmaceutical companies to open their books to show why prices for different types of insulin continue to rise.”