Despite high diabetes prevalence, critical treatments remain inaccessible in Gulf
Source: BI-ME , Author: BI-ME staff
Posted: Sun March 15, 2009 9:48 am

INTERNATIONAL. Despite a huge prevalence of type 2 diabetes in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the treatment of the disease is highly fragmented and sub-optimal in a number of areas, according to the UAE office of global healthcare research and consulting firm Datamonitor.

Critical treatments, recommended by the leading clinical bodies are either inaccessible or simply not being prescribed, creating a deficit in the quality of life for diabetics, but also huge missed opportunities for the raft of companies working in diabetes care, including pharmaceutical companies, drug delivery device and medical device manufacturers. 
There are 6.5 million residents of the GCC suffering with diabetes, a burdensome disease requiring heavy medical intervention, with an intolerable risk of amputations, blindness, heart problems and kidney failure if left uncontrolled. Arabs and South Asians account for the bulk of the affected population in the region.
Despite the huge social and financial costs imposed by diabetes, healthcare professionals in the region don’t always have access to the best treatments. While clinicians in the UAE are generally pleased with the access they have to the latest medications, the same is not true of Saudi medics.

“A common frustration for physicians in Saudi is that they lack access to the latest drugs that their counterparts in the rest of the world use extensively to manage diabetes,” says Datamonitor MENA healthcare consulting analyst and report author Ruch de Silva.
“Often this is because of delays in approval of newer anti-diabetes drugs by the SFDA [Saudi Food and Drug Authority].”
However, it’s not just regulators who are to blame. Current guidelines from the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) recommend immediate prescription of insulin alongside metformin (a common drug in the treatment of diabetes), and one or more disease modifiers like sitagliptin and rosiglitazone. Despite doctors and patients in the UAE theoretically having access to the latest diabetes agents, Datamonitor discovered that the majority of patients are not being prescribed the full raft of necessary drugs,

Datamonitor MENA head of strategy & consulting Imran Ahmed says: “The treatment deficit is in part due to slow approvals, doctors using woefully out of date treatment paradigms, and also the ridiculously high cost of some drugs. The UAE in particular has the highest drug prices among the GCC six.
“The question has to be raised in the boardrooms of diabetes drug and device suppliers: have they got the price elasticity equation right in terms of both maximising the social good and maximising their profits?”
However, even with the shortcomings in the provision of resources to treat diabetes, the greatest unmet need in both countries is that of greater public awareness of diabetes, obesity and the need to lead healthier lifestyles through better diets and regular exercise.

“From a young age, children need to be educated about leading healthy lifestyles,“ de Silva says.
“That will allow the message to spread through the population. On that note, there also needs to be collaborative national campaigns to alert people about the symptoms and complications, so that they can present themselves [to a physician] early.”
Currently, de Silva continues, “a large proportion of patients already have complications by the time of diagnosis, and a large percentage of undiagnosed people don’t even know that diabetes is silently killing them.” 
For more information on Datamonitor’s latest research into the impact of the global economic downturn on UAE consumption patterns, or to purchase the report, see

Datamonitor will be exhibiting at Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Middle East (PABME) in the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, 20-22 April 2009.

See also
Datamonitor is the world’s leading provider of online data, analytic and forecasting platforms for key vertical sectors. We help our clients, 5,000 of the world’s leading companies profit from better, more timely decisions. Through our proprietary databases and wealth of expertise, we provide clients with unbiased expert analysis and in-depth forecasts for seven industry sectors: Automotive & Logistics, Consumer Markets, Energy, Financial Services, Healthcare, Retail and Technology. Datamonitor maintains its headquarters in London and has regional offices in Frankfurt, New York, Dubai, San Francisco and Sydney. 



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