2023 World Diabetes Day: Patients groan over high cost of medications

SOME patients living with diabetes mellitus in Abia have decried the exorbitant cost of managing the ailment, saying it has drained their pockets.

The patients made the compliants in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in
Umuahia on Monday, as the global community gets set to mark World Diabetes Day on Tuesday, Nov. 14.

Established in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation with support from WHO in response to
growing concerns about the health and economic threat posed by diabetes, World Diabetes Day became
an official UN day in 2006.

The global observance is to raise awareness about the impact of diabetes on the health of people and to
highlight the opportunities to strengthen the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diabetes.

The day has “Access to Diabetes Care” as the theme for 2023.

The patients, therefore, complained that the cost of diabetes drugs is becoming unbearable for them and
appealed to government to assist them in making the drugs available for free or at subsidised rate.

A patient, Mr Enyinnaya Nwokocha, said he had been on insulin injection since he was diagnosed with the
disease more than eight years ago without getting any assistance in the procurement of the injection.

He said “today, I have seen the doctor for this week, but I’m just waiting for my wife so that we can go back home.

“I come from Isiala Ngwa South every Monday to see the doctor, and it has not been easy for me,
considering the distance and the cost of transportation.

“The drugs are quite expensive and we don’t even see them in my community, so I always look for money whenever I’m coming to purchase it because the doctor placed me on a weekly visit.”

Another patient who simply identified herself as Mama Uche from Ozu Abam in Bende Local Government Area, also lamented her ordeals in assessing treatment.

The septuagenarian complained that she had been on diabetes medication for the past five years without any meaningful improvement.

She said “my doctor has told me the food I should eat and the ones I should avoid.

“I urinate frequently, especially at night, in spite of taking my drugs but the condition worsens any time I skip my medication.

“The original drugs which I normally purchase at the pharmacy whenever I am in Umuahia are very expensive, and as a widow, I don’t have that kind of money.

“I wish government would assist us in terms of drugs because they are costly.”

Mr Chijioke Nwakanma who said he was diagnosed with diabetes about five years ago, also said that the drugs are not only expensive, but scarce.

He said “I am aware that the foreign drugs are more effective than the local ones but I usually buy the local ones because they are cheaper.

“The drug dealers told us that the high cost is due to the high exchange of naira to dollar and that is why I am calling on government to help us to reduce the cost.”

A check by NAN reveals that diabetes drugs, especially foreign brands, are scarce.

However, a price survey by NAN shows that foreign brands such as empagliflozin (Jardiance – 10 mg) sell for N16,250 per packet, while local brands such as Glucophage – 1000mg go for N2,250 per packet.

A pharmacist, Mr Fortune Moses, said that the primary challenge in the control of diabetes as a metabolic disease is financial burden.

According to him, some of the patients do not really know what they are suffering, even when they know, they prefer traditional medication.

In terms of financial challenges, the expensive drugs such as dapagliflozin(Farxiga) and empagliflozin (Jardiance), which are foreign brands, work more than the cheap ones.

“Due to the financial burden, patients around the locality go for metformin (glucophage) which is sold for N240 per card.

“That is not to say that the cheap brand does not work, but the foreign counterpart works faster,” he said. (NAN)


-November 13, 2023 @ 16:25 GMT |