Kiran Mazumdar Shaw speaks at the UNAIDS Health Innovation Exchange Meeting on the sidelines of United Nations General Assembly, held in New York on 25th September 2019.

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Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have just witnessed the first UN High Level meeting on Universal Health Care on Monday.

Governments have a collective moral responsibility to provide standard of care to every citizen and patient in the world.  My own country India has embarked on a path to provide Universal Healthcare to its citizens through an ambitious program called Ayushman Bharat which aims to serve the poorest families in Phase 1 and then expand it over time to cover every citizen.  At my own company, we take that word UNIVERSAL very seriously in addressing the needs of diabetics and cancer patients through our products and services.  As the head of my organisation Biocon, I stand here as a committed stakeholder of the global health agenda under SDG.

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I would like to take this opportunity to focus on Diabetes, a worldwide NCD pandemic which affects nearly half a billion people. Unfortunately, 4 out of 5 diabetic patients live in Low and Middle Income countries. Diabetes and its associated co-morbidities poses perhaps the biggest financial challenge to any proposed universal healthcare model. In fact, it creates an economic future mortgaged to paying for multiple organ disease and loss of productivity.

Physiologically, Diabetes is symptomatic of unmanaged blood sugar due to sub-optimal production of Insulin, a hormone that regulates glucose in the body.  It is well known that late adoption of exogenous insulin aggravates metabolic disorders, leading to greater morbidity and loss of quality of life.  Early Insulin intervention reduces the risk of co-morbidities.

  • retinopathy 76%
  • microalbuminuria 62%
  • neuropathy 50%
  • microvascular complication 37%

Diabetes is often described as a disease of “halves”: half diagnosed, half treated, half compliant, especially in developing economies.

In just about 1000 days, Insulin will turn 100 years old.

Banting and Best gave us this pivotal breakthrough hormone that saves millions of diabetics each year. Despite its universal availability for the last 97 years, it is yet to be universally accessible.

This is untenable.

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At Biocon, we are guided by the conviction that a lifesaving product like insulin cannot be priced out of the reach of those that need it on an everyday basis, whether in advanced economies like the United States or in Africa, or anywhere else on the planet.

Our words and convictions are meaningless if there is no action to back them.

So this evening, where we are gathered to deliberate health innovation to enable universal access, as the head of my organization I would like to remove the economic barriers to access and therefore

I am pleased to announce that Biocon will make its recombinant human insulin available at less than 10 cents per day in low and middle income countries. These countries contribute to 80 per cent of the global diabetes burden.

In comparison, the current US list price in retail is over 5 dollars / day or more.

We have, over the last 15 years, delivered 2 billion doses of Insulin to patients in the developing world on an embedded affordability platform. We are committed to expanding this access to patients in all regions of the world.

We are committed to reducing the price of our insulin even further through partnerships with agencies like WHO, UNAIDS & others in order to break the barrier to access in certain geographies which are too poor to deal with the challenge of Diabetes on their own.

While we do our part, we call upon device producers to march in step and ensure lower prices for the pens and needles required to administer the drug.

I am also pleased to be able to make this announcement here today, at this convening of Heads of State and other stakeholders by the UNAIDS Health Innovation Exchange.

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Kiran Mazumdar Shaw with Gunilla Carlsson, Executive Director UNAIDS

This gathering is also reflective of the fact that human health and well-being is not any one country or company undertaking, but a collective effort.

To us at Biocon, both diabetes and cancer represent one reality – the need to innovate and provide access to lifesaving medicines so that everyone, anywhere on the planet, can think of more healthful days than has been possible with those diagnosed.

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Kiran Mazumdar Shaw with Dr. Christiane Hamacher, CEO, Biocon Biologics (on Left) and Dr. Gaurav Laroia, Chief Strategy Officer, Biocon Biologics (on Right)

Thank you for this privilege of allowing me to share my thoughts on how we can deal with the effective Management of Diabetes with affordable Insulin.

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