In part 2 of this Exclusive Interview, Henry Anhalt and Howard Steinberg explain the complications of distributing insulin in the developing world and their efforts to raise awareness about this need in a conversation with Diabetes in Control Publisher Steve Freed during the ADA meeting in San Diego, California.
Henry Anhalt is a pediatric endocrinologist and board member for Insulin for Life. Entrepreneur and dLife Founder Howard Steinberg is also a board member on Insulin for Life.
Transcript of this video segment:
Steve Freed: You know that’s interesting because I would think that if there was a shortage you could pick up the phone and call the president of Eli Lilly or the president of Novo Nordisk and say there’s a need, these kids have no insulin. So there’s 50,000, you only charge $400 for your insulin you could certainly afford to donate some. For some people, it’s life or death. Why isn’t that something?
Henry Anhalt: So there are pros and cons to living in the developed world. One of them is you have access, the other is you have bureaucracy, lawyers and regulatory considerations that, oftentimes, are stumbling blocks in the ability to distribute insulin in the developing world. So even though it would make sense that if you have insulin that may expire in 3 months or 4 months sitting on the shelves, it may be more appropriate for the Pharma company, and I’m not calling out Lilly or Novo, etc., to discard that rather than to be able to donate it because of concerns around liability. I’m involved with diabetes camps and at the end of the season there’s insulin that’s left and it gets destroyed because there’s only a certain amount that’s donated for a certain time. It’s tragic to think that there are obstacles of renewing contracts if that insulin is then diverted to an organization like Insulin for Life.
Steve Freed: So what are you doing at ADA where they are announcing studies? What does that have to do with generating insulin? There’s got to be a reason for you to come all the way here?
Howard Steinberg: Well, our reason for being here, specifically, is we hold a reception here just to further awareness and involvement via the gathering and all the activity and people that are here. This year, in particular, we are premiering a short documentary film about lack of access to insulin and supplies and how Insulin for Life helps fill that gap. And just to tag on to what Henry said that it’s a very valid question when you talk about 90,000 lives aren’t an overwhelming quantity… why can’t we solve that problem with government and big Pharma? And the fact is that we can’t for a lot of bad reasons and what’s wonderful about our organization is that it’s people helping people; it’s simply individuals who have extra supplies or even supplies that they might use or that are near expiration, and get it in the hands of those that need, and so that is what is wonderful about this organization.
Steve Freed: So how can Health Care Providers (HCPs) help in what you’re doing?
Henry Anhalt: I think what’s most important to realize about how HCPs actually help in this, is to raise awareness…to have folders and brochures and cards that they can distribute to patients. In a day and age where physicians are so busy and educators are so busy, we oftentimes forget about things like this. But if we can raise awareness that there’s something that can be done so that insulin that’s not opened, that’s near expiration, 3 months or more, meters, test strips, glucagon emergency kits, lancets, lancing devices, pens, vials…if we can raise awareness, if the HCPs who encounter patients can make them aware that they can do something really good with these things and help people around the globe, I think that’s the single most important message I would send to an HCP about how they can help. Of course donating money and volunteering time is something that we desperately need, but on a drug and devices standpoint, that’s where they can be most helpful.
Howard Steinberg: It’s also helping communicate to their patients, customers and other constituents, that we exist and there’s an opportunity to donate excess supplies, that also their own excess supplies that might be sometimes returned to manufacturer or otherwise discarded, send them on to us and we’ll make good of it; we will save lives with it. That’s important and that’s where providers and all through the healthcare chain can contribute.