The incidence of diabetes and other non-communicable diseases has registered a worrisome spike in India, which will make precision medicine the next big thing in healthcare, said Dr Shraddha Bhure, who is the medical director of German pharma major Boehringer Ingelheim.
According to a new study conducted by the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the prevalence of diabetes and other metabolic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in India is considerably higher than previously estimated.
The hard-hitting study found that 3.1 crore more Indians became diabetic between 2019 and 2021, whereas close to 40 percent of the population was struck by abdominal obesity in the same period.
With the emerging burden of these diseases in India, Dr Bhure said the concept of precision medicine was extremely relevant in cancers arising from specific gene mutations as well as in relatively rare diseases. Now, with the latest data on NCDs, she said, “Customised approaches should be considered as the next line of treatment, beyond the foundational pillars of care.”
“Precision medicine is an essential approach to medical care, in which patient clusters can be identified…” she added.
‘85% focus on curing NCDs’
Dr Bhure said the approach to clinical care could be tailored as per the priorities of patients. For example, she said, youth-onset diabetes was a subgroup of Type 2 that deserved a more focused approach for optimum long-term care.
Beyond precision medicine, personalised medicine is the art of customising the approach to every individual patient depending on clinical priorities. “The approach to disorders like diabetes and hypertension have been increasingly evolving towards precision and personalised care, with the progressive availability of newer interventions,” Dr Bhure said.
Boehringer Ingelheim claims to have been striving to improve NCD care in the areas of diabetes, brain stroke, cardiovascular, and kidney diseases in India. The company ranks first in the country in the non-insulin market within the diabetes care segment.
“The company aims to reduce the number of deaths caused by NCDs, which account for 7 out of 10 worldwide. To achieve this goal, the company has developed a medicine portfolio focused on curing NCDs, accounting for nearly 85% of its entire portfolio,” Dr Bhure said.
‘Pharma, healthcare should meet excellent quality standards’
The family-owned pharma company, Boehringer Ingelheim, founded in 1885 has been known for its anti-diabetic drug products in India, including empagliflozin and linagliptin.
“BI (Boehringer Ingelheim) has been committed to bringing pertinent solutions for heart disease, stroke, cancers, respiratory disease, kidney disease, metabolic disorders like diabetes, and obesity, in our country,” she said.
Dr Bhure said to serve patients with chronic NCDs, it was essential to meet quality standards in pharmaceuticals and healthcare for “ensuring excellence in long-term patient outcomes”.
“In fact, the evolution of regulations can be a step forward in reinforcing the quality of care received by the patient,” she said. “Access to medical care is poised to improve significantly, with the focus of the government to raise healthcare expenditure.”
She added: “The government spending in India’s total health expenditure as a percentage of gross domestic product has risen to 2.1% in 2022 and is expected to rise to 2.5% by 2025.”
Dr Bhure said the financial reinforcement for government-driven NCD programmes, as well as state and union territory-level healthcare sector financing, should optimally support healthcare prioritisation in our population.