Introduction to World Health Day
April 7 is marked as World Health Day each year to draw attention to areas of concern related to global healthcare.
In 2021, the World Health Day campaign focuses on building a fairer and healthier world collectively. It is in response to the fact that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has exposed deep-rooted and systemic flaws within healthcare systems across the globe, which push millions of people to poverty annually and widen health, social, and gender inequalities. 1
Universal Health Coverage – A Necessity Now More Than Ever
Studies show that testing, contract tracing, quarantine, isolation, and robust primary and secondary healthcare delivery systems are critical to preventing high mortality in a pandemic. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, more than 2.8 million people have succumbed to COVID-19. This high death toll points out that most countries lack a robust healthcare framework supported by strategies and policies based on universal healthcare coverage (UHC). The COVID-19 crisis has reinforced the fact that if the human race is to contend with deadly pandemics in the future, then universal access to quality healthcare for everyone across the world will have to become a reality.
Universal Healthcare Coverage (UHC) is Gaining Global Momentum
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared UHC as a central step to safeguarding all people’s health and well-being irrespective of their age. It has made it a fundamental requirement for countries worldwide to achieve sustainable and equitable health outcomes.
The WHO defines universal healthcare coverage as: “…all people and communities can use the promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services they need, of sufficient quality to be effective, while also ensuring that the use of these services does not expose the user to financial hardship.”
Universal healthcare coverage cuts across all of the health-related UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and brings hope of better health and protection for the world’s poorest.
UHC necessitates the strengthening of the healthcare system for people, institutions, and resources to build resilient health systems that are competent enough to offer well-timed support during emergencies through prevention and detection, alongside maintaining peace and economic safety.
How Biocon Biologics is Contributing to Universal Health Care
Biocon Biologics is contributing to the goal of universal health care by supplying safe, effective and highly similar versions of approved and authorized biological medicines used to treat chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
In pursuit of this mission, Biocon Biologics is leveraging cutting-edge science, innovative tech platforms and its research & development capabilities to lower treatment costs while improving healthcare outcomes.
Increasing Access to Biosimilar Treatments for Cancer
Trastuzumab, hailed as a path-breaking targeted therapy for HER2-positive breast cancer, was inaccessible to most patients in India because of its high price. In 2014, we developed the world’s first biosimilar version of Trastuzumab and introduced it as CANMAb in India. At that time, CANMAb was the world’s most affordable Trastuzumab. The affordability of CANMAb made Trastuzumab accessible to several thousand patients in India and helped save the lives of many patients suffering from this aggressive form of breast cancer.
Today, our biosimilar Trastuzumab is making a difference to patients in U.S., EU, Canada, Australia and several Most of the World (MoW) countries.
To take forward our long-running crusade against cancer through our high-quality, affordable biosimilars, we have recently signed an agreement with the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) to expand access to lifesaving cancer biosimilars in over 30 countries in Africa and Asia as a part of the Cancer Access Partnership (CAP). The partnership is a significant step in delivering advanced cancer therapies to patients who need them the most and ensuring equitable access to high-quality biosimilars in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). This is an extension of our commitment to enable universal access to cancer patients.
Increasing Access to Biosimilar Insulins for Managing Diabetes
Biocon has had a long experience in addressing the large global unmet need for high-quality, affordable insulins that provide cost-effective alternatives to expensive branded products.
We are using our science, scale, and expertise to widen access to high-quality yet affordable biosimilars, reduce healthcare disparities and achieve ‘access for all.’ In the 2000s, India was home to a quarter of the world’s then 120 million people with diabetes, and they only had access to expensive imported insulin brands sold by global innovator companies. Biocon started its insulins development program in the early 2000s and launched its indigenously produced high quality, safe, effective and affordable recombinant human Insulin using its proprietary pichia technology as Insugen in 2004. Biocon’s affordable pricing at a fraction of the prevailing insulins prices compelled innovator companies to drop their brands’ prices, thus paving the way for affordable access. Since then, Biocon has provided over 2 billion doses of human Insulin worldwide.
Similarly, in 2009, we launched a long-acting insulin analogue, Glargine, in India, later launched in Japan as the first biosimilar from India. Today, our biosimilar Insulin Glargine is making a difference to patients in the US, EU, Australia, and several MoW markets from Mexico to Malaysia.
Biocon Biologics has come forward with its ‘Mission 10 cents’ to create universal access to high-quality Insulin by providing recombinant human Insulin (rh-Insulin) at less than 10 U.S. cents/day for direct procurement by governments in low- and middle-income countries, where high prices keep it out of the reach of millions of patients with diabetes.
We have rolled out our ‘Mission 10 cents’ in the Philippines and Tanzania in 2020. Earlier this year, we partnered with The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) as the first biosimilar insulins company to promote and support IDF’s Core Mission initiative and activities. This important partnership with IDF coincides with the start of the centenary celebrations of the discovery of Insulin and takes forward Biocon Biologics’ mission of enabling affordable access to insulins to people with diabetes worldwide.
Aiming to Make a Difference in a Post-COVID World
In a post-COVID world, healthcare systems globally will be compelled to leverage both generics and biosimilars to contain medical costs. As a fully integrated, ‘pure play’ global biosimilars company, Biocon Biologics has the scientific expertise and manufacturing scale to deliver complex biosimilars to patients across the globe.
Through its biosimilars, Biocon Biologics will contribute to the aspiration of building a fairer, healthier world.