India, often known as Diabetes Capital of the World, is home to over 74 million patients of diabetes and statistics reveal that these cases are likely to increase to 124.8 millions till 2045. The burden of diabetes is high and it is increasing globally. According to doctors and health experts, 57 percent of these individuals remain undiagnosed. Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for majority of the cases, can lead to multiorgan complications, broadly divided into microvascular and macrovascular complications. Although it is known that proper control of blood sugar blood pressure and blood lipid levels can prevent or delay the onset of diabetes complications, the management and prevention of the disease in India is a huge challenge. A similar pattern can be seen in cancer management in the country. Studies show that the cancer burden varies within the regions of India posing great challenges in its prevention and control. Financial Express.com reached out to Vineet Gupta, Managing Director, Eli Lilly India, and sub-continent and he talked about Eli Lilly’s plan for diabetes and cancer care in India, its plans and partnerships among others. Excerpts:
In India, the dangers and impact of non-communicable diseases like diabetes are rising. India is considered the diabetes capital of the world. What are Eli Lilly’s plans in this segment?
Lilly has a long and distinguished history of innovation in diabetes care. The company has been a global leader in diabetes care since 1923, when we introduced commercially the world’s first insulin. In India too, our diabetes portfolio includes a wide range of innovative products, and we are committed to continue bringing our new innovations in the future. Lilly is expanding access to our therapies by building strategic partnerships with leading Indian companies who help us deliver on our purpose of making life better for people around the world.
You were appointed as Managing Director of Lilly India in January 2022. What are your plans and goals and how can Eli Lilly contribute to the Indian healthcare system?
Eli Lilly has been serving patients in India for more than 27 years. Over these years we have endeavored to ensure that the country benefits from the strong portfolio of life-changing medicines and advanced therapies that Lilly introduces around the world. We have been committed to our purpose of making life better and will continue to ensure that more patients in India can benefit from the discovery and delivery of our innovative medicines. To do this we continue to focus on expanding access of our existing, specialty products along with developing collaborations with leading Indian pharmaceutical companies in select therapy areas to ensure that our medicines reach patients who need them. We also intend to strengthen our relationship with healthcare providers and medical community by sharing latest scientific data on new medicines/indications spanning our therapy areas. In addition, we will continue to leverage different social impact programs to contribute towards improving health and supporting communities.
What are the crucial products that you are working on at the moment? How many of them will be launched this year?
For more than 145 years, we have worked tirelessly to develop and deliver trusted medicines that meet real needs. Globally, we are focusing on therapy areas where there is an urgent need for innovative scientific solutions such as Diabetes, Oncology, Pain, Immunology, and Neurodegeneration. Specifically in India, we are expecting to launch by early next year our innovations in the areas of Diabetes, Dermatology and Oncology.
In the segment of cancer diagnosis, care, and treatment, where does India stand at the moment? What immediate steps need to be introduced to improve them, according to you?
The most recent data indicates that there are one million new cancer cases diagnosed every year in India, and this is expected to rise 5-fold by 2025. When diagnosed or detected at an early stage, the prognosis in cancer treatment can be more positive because the cancer might be less aggressive. This also means that it is less expensive to treat. The challenge here is to ensure broad awareness on importance of early detection and expand access to treatment. Beyond this, people need quick and cost-effective access to good health infrastructure. Finally, they need access to new innovative medicines that improve prognosis and extend life. Driving awareness and expanding access to treatment requires collaboration amongst multiple public and private stakeholders.
Recently, Eli Lilly announced that they are partnering with a Chinese firm, Triastek, to develop 3D-printed drugs that can more efficiently deliver medication in a person’s body. What are the benefits of such drugs? Can we expect this in India in the coming years?
We continuously explore collaboration opportunities enabling us to further deliver on our promise and improve outcomes for patients who rely on us. We regularly disclose collaboration results and studies or research outcomes as they become available.
What are the key challenges that pharmaceutical companies like Eli Lilly face in India? How do you address them?
Our responsibility to society starts with making quality, trusted medicines that help people live longer, healthier and more active lives. We are proactively making persistent efforts to seek regulatory approvals to accelerate the process of bringing our innovative products that will serve the unmet needs in Indian patients. In India, healthcare expenditure puts a burden on household disposable income as majority of the expense is out-of-pocket. Increasing public expenditure on healthcare can play a significant role in reducing this burden. Lilly’s strategic partnerships within India are key to our local and global efforts to make innovative medicines available to more people.
As a global pharmaceutical company what is Eli Lilly‘s current position in India and what are your plans for the country in the coming years?
Our purpose has always been to unite caring with discovery to create medicines that make life better for people around the world. India is an important country for Lilly and we remain committed to bringing innovations and collaborating with health care providers and industry stakeholders, thus strengthening health systems and improving care. Through strategic partnerships, we will also ensure expanded access to our medicines. We are keen on collaborating with both public and private sector stakeholders to tackle unmet needs and develop the local healthcare landscape.