Dr Pradeep Gadge, a leading diabetologist at Gadge Diabetes Care Centre, Mumbai, has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis urging them to make glucometers more accessible.
He earlier campaigned to bring glucometer strips under the government’s price control.
Currently, with an estimated diabetic population of nearly 425 million, the numbers are growing exponentially. What is more, it is no longer an urban and elitist affliction. By sheer weight of numbers, the number of diabetics among the rural and poor outstrips the number of diabetics among the urban and the rich respectively.
By 2030, nearly nine per cent of India’s population is likely to be affected by diabetes, according to the study of International Diabetes Federation. More than any other disease, diabetes needs to be carefully monitored and cared for lifelong by the afflicted themselves. In this context, the role played by glucometers becomes crucial.
“Jan Aushadi, the novel project was launched by the government of India in the year 2008. However, as of today, we have 3,500 centers across the country with not each of them fully equipped and upgraded. So it’s my request to the government officials and our health ministry to take the step of reduction in the prices of glucometer strips, as it should be available everywhere. Also, every private practitioner should keep glucometer at their clinics. Making this available at reasonable price, quality medicines, in the market, would benefit everyone, especially the poor and the needy,” said Dr Gadge.
Over the years, the cost of the instrument itself has come down from close to Rs. 5,000 to about Rs.3,000 it is true that the strips are needed on a recurring basis. Glucometer strips range between Rs. 750 and Rs. 800 for a vial. Each vial contains around 30 strips, with each strip costing around Rs. 25.
That does not sound much, but when you consider that patients need to measure their blood glucose levels two or even three times a day and frequently before and after meals to check how a medication works with different kinds of intake of food. Thus, even assuming two to three strips a day conservatively, that amounts to two to three vials or a minimum of Rs. 1,500 – Rs. 2,250 per month for an average diabetic a steep sum by any reckoning.
What Dr Gadge says is that, while the market price of glucometer is about Rs 25, its production cost is just about 0.25 paisa. He says that manufacturing companies should lower the cost. He, therefore, urges that government should make it available at all government hospitals.