Diabetes - an epidemic with no end in sight (yet)

Diabetes - an epidemic with no end in sight (yet)

by Pininvest Analysis

Chronic Diseases on pininvest.com

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Diabetes is demonstrably a top priority for health organizations worldwide, affecting a very significant percentage of the adult population, doubling to 8.5% in a generation, according to a WHO 2016 report and reaching an estimated 420 million persons today

Although populations are universally exposed, whatever the economic development of their country of residence, this very negative trend is compounded in countries entering the middle-income bracket, exposed to profound – and very negative - changes in living habits and food consumption

Prevention through practices contributing to good health and early diagnosis are the obvious – and cheapest – measures but these actions will rely on a fairly structured and educated health care organization

Poorly equipped, in the early stages of implementing a proper health care organization at the local level, low income and growing countries are also the most exposed to the diabetes crisis

This is not to say that over time countries such as China, India, Indonesia or Brazil – where the size of the population and the complexities of access to patients and training of medical forces are breath taking – will not manage to control the epidemic

Medium term however, we argue that the specialists of the disease will continue to exercise a large (but not necessarily dominant) influence in the national health care systems

  • It is estimated that 50% of diabetes patients go undiagnosed and again 50% of those who are diagnosed get a measure of treatment (not necessarily full and complete) … and so on
  • This is the reason why the WHO report stresses basic intervention at the primary care level – with the intent to strengthen the front line of health care as more readily available devices to measure the blood glucose level creates much larger demand for treatment

In this context, the strategy of ‘category specialists’ – engaged in diabetes research, medical training and insulin distribution over decades – is at a clear advantage

  • The latest example will be Johnson & Johnson – the Pharmaceutical Major with the largest drug and device coverage worldwide – exiting the diabetes device market with the sale of its LifeScan unit for blood glucose monitoring products and closure of Animas, its insulin pumps division (announced in March ’18)
  • Benefiting from its focus, Novo Nordisk of Denmark has built a strong brand recognition and comforted its market shares country by country worldwide. While growth may be expected to slow in advanced markets – especially as more medicines fall off patent - the company has room to expand in the countries hit by the first waves of awareness of the epidemic
  • In China, Novo Nordisk has been active since the early ‘90s and demonstrates both the merits of a very long view and the risks of becoming overbearing

More in our note on Novo Nordisk - world leadership today and tomorrow