In just about 1000 days, Insulin will turn 100 years old.
Banting and Best gave us this pivotal breakthrough hormone that saves millions of diabetics each year. Despite its universal availability for the last 97 years, it is yet to be universally accessible.
This is untenable – Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chairperson and Managing Director Bicon Limited
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw founder of Biocon, India’s biggest biopharmaceutical company, has evolved from a passionate scientist and entrepreneur to a mentor and guiding force in India’s biotech revolution.
With a net worth of Rs 18,500 crore, Shaw is one of the richest self-made woman in India, according to the latest figures released by IIFL Wealth Hurun India Women’s Rich list. She founded Biocon in 1978 and has led its successful IPO in 2004.
This month, in a landmark contribution to healthcare, Biocon has announced plans to bring down the cost of insulin to 10 cents (roughly Rs 7) from the $ 5 (Rs 350).
“Biocon will make its recombinant human insulin available at less than 10 cents per day in low and middle income countries. These countries contribute to 80% of the global diabetes burden. In comparison, the current US list price in retail is more than $5 / day or more,” says Shaw.
Shaw said accessibility of insulin has been a major concern over the years due to its escalating price. The Bengaluru-headquartered biotech firm says it is “committed” to reducing the price of insulin “even further” through partnerships with agencies such as World Health Organisation (WHO) in order to break the barrier to access in certain geographies which are “too poor to deal with the challenge of diabetes on their own”.
Shaw has been an advocate of government and civic responsibility in health care. “Governments have a collective moral responsibility to provide standard of care to every citizen and patient in the world. India has embarked on a path to provide Universal Healthcare to its citizens through an ambitious program called Ayushman Bharat which aims to serve the poorest families in Phase 1 and then expand it over time to cover every citizen. At Biocon, we take that word UNIVERSAL very seriously in addressing the needs of diabetics and cancer patients through our products and services.”
Over the last 15 years, Biocon has delivered 2 billion doses of Insulin to patients in the developing world on an embedded affordability platform. They are committed to expanding this access to patients in all regions of the world.
“To us at Biocon, both diabetes and cancer represent one reality – the need to innovate and provide access to lifesaving medicines so that everyone, anywhere on the planet, can think of more healthful days than has been possible with those diagnosed.”
India needs the leader in all of us
Shaw says that the time has come to usher in the kind of political governance that is accountable, transparent, and performance-oriented. “We need a democracy where every citizen has access to modern infrastructure, good education and effective affordable healthcare. We need effective, metrics-driven governance, which offers self-empowerment opportunities to the disadvantaged so that they can participate in growth and partake in its dividends, lifting them out of poverty.”
“We need to ask ourselves what can we do to improve the reality we live in? How can we, as citizens of a great country, ensure a better life for all?”
This is where today’s youth need to play an important role.
“It is important that every young man and woman in this country gets involved, to get their hands dirty and take on the challenges in order to build strong democratic institutions. Leadership comes from within. Any individual with knowledge, vision and courage of conviction can aspire to become a leader. Today, as India faces enormous challenges, we require the leader in all of us to wake up and act. We need to stand firm to protect liberalism, pluralism and social harmony — the values the Indian republic has been built on.”
Shaw is a great inspiration for the youth of Bangalore and the rest of India. She urges youngsters:
“India needs ordinary but daring young people, driven by the passion to make a difference, to take extraordinary steps in changing things for the better. We need a more enlightened and development-oriented political discourse in India that rises above partisan politics and instead focuses on putting the nation on the path to robust, inclusive and equitable growth. Today’s youth should strive to raise the quality of debate, continue to uphold decency, civility and decorum and aim for the highest standards in public life.”
Shaw quotes Mahatma Gandhi, ‘The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.’ May you be and may you make the difference that this country needs.”