Hyderabad: Diabetic patients are advised to take insulin either through an injection or using a pen, for treatment of diabetes. Insulin keeps the level of glucose in the bloodstream at a normal level. Diabetic patients are unable to produce enough insulin which leads to building up of glucose in the blood which causes damage to blood vessels that supply blood to the organs such as the kidney and heart.
Although it is known to give quicker results than tablets, the cost of insulin is burning a hole in some patients’ pockets. “I have been taking insulin for five years and use an insulin pen to inject insulin. One pen costs Rs 540 and since I need to take insulin twice a day, and my dosage is quite high, I use up to four pens a month. My sister who is also a diabetic patient uses a syringe to inject insulin and ever her cost for the same is about Rs 2,000 every month,” says Subaida P.U.
The cost of an insulin pen ranges from Rs 500 to Rs 550 and consists of 300 to 500 units of insulin. One pen can last for up to 15 days for patients who are advised to take insulin only once a day or for those who have a lesser intake. The cost of insulin for such patients ranges from Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,250. Some patients have to take 40 to 50 units per day. “The increased demand for insulin could also be a factor for the prices being so high. For most patients, insulin is more beneficial than tablets in regulating sugar levels and hence many prefer it now,”says Dr Sreedevi Paladugu, an endocrinologist.
According to doctors, it is difficult to replicate insulin, a hormone of the human body, which is a reason for the high cost. Another reason cited is the manufacturing cost. "Regular insulin costs only Rs 150 to 200 per vial. But Analog insulin, which is laboratory grown, is more expensive, ranging from Rs 400 to 500. Analog insulin is mostly manufactured abroad and Indian companies have a tie up with the foreign ones. One example is Novo, a leading producer of insulin. So the manufacturers also determine the cost." says Dr. Sreedevi.