Ukraine receives seven-week supply of long-acting insulin from Direct Relief

17 August 2022

Responding to a call for help from Ukraine’s Ministry of Health, IDF member Direct Relief has secured and delivered to Ukraine enough long-acting insulin to meet the country’s estimated need for seven-plus weeks.

The insulin, manufactured and provided to Direct Relief by the drug maker Eli Lilly and Company, was delivered to Ukraine over the past two weeks and will be allocated by Ukraine’s Ministry of Health to hospitals, clinics, and programmes treating people with diabetes around the country.

There are 2.3 million adults living with diabetes in Ukraine in 2022 – one in every 14 adults – 40% of whom are undiagnosed, according to the IDF Diabetes Atlas. All people with type 1 diabetes and roughly 30% of people with type 2 diabetes require daily insulin injections, while many depend on other medications to control the condition.

Direct Relief and its partners estimate that Ukraine needs 115,000 10 ml vials of long-acting insulin per month. In this single supply of medicine, Lilly provided 673,000 quick-injection pens, each containing 3 ml of long-acting insulin glargine, equivalent to 202,191 10 ml vials, or enough to cover Ukraine’s needs for more than seven weeks.

When a person has diabetes, their body doesn’t make enough insulin to control their blood sugar level, making them susceptible to health problems including heart disease, blindness, lower-limb amputations and more. Diabetes is among the world’s most widespread and most harmful noncommunicable diseases. In 2021 alone, diabetes caused an estimated 6.7 million deaths and at least $966 billion in health expenditures worldwide, according to the IDF, which has worked closely with Direct Relief in planning and facilitating large-scale insulin donations to countries in crisis around the world.

“IDF expresses its immense gratitude to our partner Direct Relief for the organization’s quick and efficient mobilization of resources to deliver medical supplies and aid to support Ukrainian citizens living with diabetes,” said Prof. Andrew Boulton, president of IDF. “In times of crises, when resources are scarce, caring for diabetes can be extremely difficult. People living with diabetes require uninterrupted access to the medicines and care they need to manage their condition and prevent life-threatening complications. IDF’s long-term partner Lilly has been incredibly generous in supporting people with diabetes affected by the war in Ukraine. We applaud this latest donation of insulin, which will help bolster the country’s supply of this essential medicine.”

People with diabetes take long-acting insulins like the insulin glargine donated by Lilly once a day to provide a baseline insulin level in their blood. Most people who depend on injected insulin also need short-acting insulin to level their blood sugar after meals.

“Lilly recognizes the challenges people continue to face in Ukraine in accessing essential medicines like insulin. This collaboration with Direct Relief is critical to ensuring our medicines reach the healthcare providers and patients who need them,” said Michael B. Mason, president of Lilly Diabetes.

The huge charitable supply of insulin is the latest action in Direct Relief’s extensive aid for Ukrainians with diabetes since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. Since then, Direct Relief has secured and delivered 1.4 million insulin quick-injection pens, 733,800 insulin pen needles, 188,833 10 ml insulin vials, nearly 25,000 glucose meters with 400,000 test strips, and over 3.2 million oral diabetes tablets equivalent to almost 1.5 million daily defined doses. Direct Relief has also provided a $150,000 grant to the Ukrainian Diabetes Federation (UDF) for managing and distributing insulin and diabetes-related medical supplies and testing equipment.

Under a bi-lateral partnership agreement, Ukraine’s Ministry of Health is working with Direct Relief to secure medicine donations from pharmaceutical manufacturers, leveraging Direct Relief’s existing relationships, smoothing the processes of securing the drugs, and ensuring their timely delivery. Lilly supplied the insulin to Direct Relief, which arranged cold-chain transportation to Kyiv to benefit Ukrainian patients. Since the war erupted, Ukraine’s government has been covering access to insulin for its population with diabetes.

“Direct Relief is deeply grateful to Lilly for its leadership and commitment reflected in this donation for the people of Ukraine,” said Thomas Tighe, Direct Relief president and CEO. “Lilly’s support is an incredible example of what’s needed to address this crisis from a humanitarian standpoint.”

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Direct Relief has provided more than 900 tons of requested medical aid to Ukraine and neighboring countries hosting Ukrainian refugees.

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