China Diabetes Triples Creating $3.2 Billion Drug Market
Beijing doctor Li Guangwei sees China’s struggle with 90 million diabetes sufferers daily. Among the standing-room-only crowd waiting outside his clinic door are patients with slurred speech, mismatched clothes and aggression.
These are the ones with low blood-sugar, a condition that can make people appear drunk and is often caused by too much of the hormone insulin, said Li, head of Fuwai Hospital’s diabetes unit. More than half of China’s diabetics have inadequate blood- glucose control, a 2011 study of 140,000 patients showed.
Prevalence of Type 2 diabetes, a disease linked to inactivity and excess calories, has more than tripled in China over the past decade, fueling 20 percent-a-year growth in drug sales and straining health services. It’s also stoking need for newer, costlier medications from Merck & Co. (MRK), Novo Nordisk A/S (NOVOB) and Sanofi that help avoid blood-sugar spikes and complications such as heart attack and stroke.
“If we can choose drugs with little or…
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