What are pharma companies doing to expand access to insulin – and how can efforts be scaled up?
06 October 2022
A new report by the Access to Medicine Foundation finds that the three companies that dominate the global insulin market – Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi – are pursuing a patchwork of strategies to expand access to their products in LMICs. These include paediatric programmes, price ceilings, and equitable pricing policies.
Initiatives can also be seen from smaller companies, including biosimilars manufacturer Biocon, which is included within the scope of this report. The analysis explores the as-yet-unrealised potential of biosimilar insulins in terms of affordability and availability, as well as looking at the challenges facing these products in the marketplace.
In the report
The challenge: Lack of access to insulin is a devastating problem for diabetes patients globally – but this is a key moment for change.
Company profiles: Companies' strategies and initiatives are set out in detail in company profiles for Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, Sanofi and Biocon, showing what each of the companies is currently doing to expand access to its insulin products in LMICs.
Industry analysis: The report finds that, out of the 108 LMICs covered in this analysis, there were only 29 countries where all the insulins classed as ‘essential medicines’ by the World Health Organization had been registered; and in 24 countries, no insulins could be found to be registered at all.
Spotlight on access for to insulin for children: Around 1.2 million children and adolescents are currently living with type 1 diabetes worldwide. This section zooms in on what companies are doing to reach children and young people living in LMICs, and considers what more needs to be done to address the scale of the problem.
Next steps: Key actions and strategic approaches that insulin manufacturers, including manufacturers of biosimilar insulins, can take to meet the challenge of expanding access to insulin. Such approaches will need to consider insulin within the broader context of diabetes care, including patients’ access to glucometers, needles, test strips and other essential products, and patients’ access to trained healthcare professionals.
About this report
This report is published as part of a programme of activities that the Access to Medicine Foundation has undertaken aimed at identifying new solutions for insulin companies to expand access to diabetes care. The content in the report has been drawn from data for the upcoming 2022 Access to Medicine Index, as well as data available in the public domain, peer-reviewed literature, and global health and policy reports. Additional data specifically for the purpose of this publication, interviews held with partners and experts in the diabetes field, and insights shared by industry and global health stakeholders during the Expert Session ‘Closing the gaps in access to diabetes care in low- and middle-income countries’ hosted by the Foundation on 7 July 2022 is also included.