Direct Relief and IDF provide vital access to healthcare through global diabetes partnership

06 December 2022

Health care companies come together to donate tens of millions of diabetes products to countries in need, increasing access to essential medicines and care worldwide.

Direct Relief and the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) developed and implemented the Global Diabetes Partnership in 2019 to encourage healthcare companies to donate diabetes-related medical products to countries experiencing a crisis and lower income countries that lack consistent access to diabetes products. To date, the collaborative effort has resulted in the donation of more than 40 million tablets of oral diabetes medications, over three million vials of insulin, and millions of units of diabetes-related consumables and diagnostics to at-risk countries and populations.

“IDF is delighted to collaborate with Direct Relief and support industry partners to provide people in need across the world with increased access to diabetes-related products,” said Prof. Andrew Boulton, president of the International Diabetes Federation. “Thanks to the generous charitable donations of Merck & Co., Inc., Novo Nordisk, Eli Lilly and Company, Merck KGaA Darmstadt Germany, BD, embecta, and LifeScan, we can provide critical, uninterrupted care for people living with diabetes in countries where resources are limited.”

According to the latest IDF Diabetes Atlas, the number of people living with diabetes around the world has risen to 537 million, and mortality from the disease correlates directly with the country of residence’s economic stability. Moreover, as the global disease burden continues to shift from communicable to noncommunicable diseases, diabetes has emerged as a major contributor to disability and death, responsible for 6.7 million deaths worldwide in 2021. Although it is often not the case for people living in countries experiencing a natural disaster or economic crisis, fortunately, health complications related to diabetes can be minimized or often eliminated through access to essential medicines and care.

A few highlights of product support from within the Global Diabetes Partnership include:

Merck & Co., Inc., known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, provided a donation of nearly 10 million tablets of its diabetes medicines, an amount sufficient to meet the need for a year of treatment for approximately 25,000 patients requiring second-line innovative oral therapy to treat their Type 2 diabetes. The company’s contribution was a manufacture-to-donate commitment, made to provide supply for patients in 11 countries across Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East.

“Addressing the growing burden of cardiovascular and metabolic disease in low- and middle-income countries requires a multi-sectoral effort to build sustainable health systems that provide access to care and essential medicines, regardless of geography or economic circumstance,” said Allison Goldberg, executive director of Global Impact Giving for Merck & Co., Inc. “We are proud to be partnering with Direct Relief and the International Diabetes Federation to help increase access to second-line Type 2 diabetes treatments for patients in need around the world.”

Eli Lilly and Company provided over 1.4 million cartridges, pens, and vials of insulin to support patients impacted by emergencies in Ukraine, Haiti, and Lebanon. This included a significant supply of insulin to Direct Relief for Ukraine in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) to support Ukrainian Ministry of Health managed public hospitals.

“Lilly is committed to providing access to our medicines for people around the world – including in areas affected by disasters and other humanitarian crises,” said Michael B. Mason, executive vice president at Lilly and president of Lilly Diabetes. “We greatly value our collaboration with the International Diabetes Federation, Direct Relief and other private sector partners to deliver insulin and diabetes supplies to patients in some of the most difficult and life-threatening conditions.”

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany provided over 20 million tablets of Type 2 diabetes therapies to support numerous countries experiencing an emergency situation and or significant gap in access such as Ukraine, Haiti, Lebanon, Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Togo, and other countries.

Novo Nordisk A/S provided over 2 million vials of insulin to support underserved patients in Haiti, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Togo, Ethiopia, Central African Republic, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Burundi, Afghanistan, and other countries. Novo Nordisk also manufactured a special donation of its various insulins to support Direct Relief’s Ukraine and Lebanese emergency responses, as well as manufacture-to-donate insulin for Direct Relief’s long-term partner FHADIMAC in Haiti.

embecta formerly part of BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company), provided diabetes pen needles and syringes to support children with Type 1 diabetes in over 30 countries around the world. This donation was key to those patients being able to access donated insulin that they received. Over the past 3 years, as the diabetes care business of BD, they’ve made significant diabetes product donations to Direct Relief.

LifeScan provided 90 pallets of glucose meters and test strips to support children with diabetes in Ukraine. Direct Relief provided these products to the Ministry of Health of Ukraine and the Ukrainian Diabetes Federation so support the country’s children with diabetes.

“The Central African Republic is ranked as the fifth poorest country in the world, making it extremely difficult to buy required medicines for chronic diseases. This IDF and Direct Relief medicines initiative allowed our patients a means for recovery and access to healthcare, which are among their most basic human rights. The donations we received were key to preserving good health and life.”, stated Dr. Gaspard Kouriah, medical advisor of the Association des Diabetiques Centrafrique. “According to our medical staff, the access of these medicines has led to an influx of people with diabetes seeking help and care from our association. These efforts have considerably improved our system and access to health care within our country.”

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