Indigenous diabetes testing kit to cost 90% less

NEW DELHI: India is set to introduce indigenous testing products for diabetes by the year-end, bringing down costs by 90 per cent. The Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) is in the final stages of testing products including strips and readers for diabetes.

Speaking on the need for India to have affordable indigenous technologies, health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said on Friday, “I have given ICMR a deadline of the end of the year to bring indigenously developed testing strips for diabetes.”

ICMR director general Dr VM Katoch said the cost of a diabetes testing strip was between Rs 15-30 since the products were all patented. ICMR aims to bring down the cost to Rs 3-5.

Dr Katoch added, “A dozen projects have been initiated while four are in a very advanced stage. We are hopeful that we will be able to come out with some products by December.”

India is home to 62 million diabetics, second only to China which has 92.3 million diabetics. By 2030, India’s diabetes numbers are expected to cross the 100 million mark according to a 2012 report by International Diabetes Federation. More worryingly, WHO projects that in the next 10 years, deaths by diabetes will increase by 35%.

The economic burden due to diabetes in India is among the highest in the world. As per WHO estimates, mortality from diabetes, heart disease and stroke cost about $210 billion in India in 2005. Much of the heart disease and stroke in these estimates were linked to diabetes. Diabetes, heart disease and stroke together will cost about $333.6 billion over the next 10 years in India alone, estimates WHO.

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Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. The disease exposes a person to heart attack, stroke, amputations, nerve damage, blindness and kidney disease.

Work on diagnostic tests for TB, dengue, kalazar, leptospirosis and other infections that are indigenously produced is also underway.