New, affordable kits for diabetic patients to hit market soon

Kits developed by IIT-Bombay and BITS-Pilani will cost Rs 500 to Rs 800, and reduce cost of diabetes management

By Jyotsna Singh
Published: Tuesday 14 January 2014

The Union health ministry on Monday launched two indigenously-developed, affordable kits for detection and monitoring of glucose level in diabetic patients.

The kits will reduce the cost of diabetes management for patients by one-fourth and will make government's diabetes-screening programme more cost-effective. The glucometer will now cost around Rs 500-800 as against the price of Rs 1,000-2,500 for imported versions of the same. Each blood glucose strip will cost Rs 2-4 whereas the imported ones cost between Rs 18 and Rs 35.

Both the newly-launched kits consist of a glucometer and strips; these have been prepared by different agencies, funded by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). The diabetes screening system developed by the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay is called SuChek and the one made by Birla Institute of Technology and Science -Pilani's Hyderabad campus is named QuickcheQ. The earlier one is based on a technology which has been in use by companies abroad while the latter one uses entirely new software; the institute will apply for its patent soon.

How the kits work

The kits will work on an existing principle. After puncturing the tip of a finger with a lancet, the patient would apply a drop of blood on an indicated location on the strip. The strip will then be inserted into the glucometer which will give a reading of glucose level in digital format.

"We are screening people for non-communicable diseases in 100 districts in 21 states. So far, 53 million people have been found to be diabetic and 50 million have been suffering from hypertension. While screening, we found that getting access to cheap strips for diabetes was tough. These inexpensive strips will help in the screening process," said Union health minister Ghulam nabi Azad.

The glucometers are enabled with Android Apps to store the data after performing glucose level test of a person. The Apps are attached to cloud storage and analytics, a data storage model where networks are linked through wireless technology. This will assist in centralised collection of data and help in monitoring public health and determining trends related to sugar and diabetes.

Price won't increase: ICMR

Answering questions related to pricing of the products, director general of ICMR, V M Katoch, said there will be no compromise on price. "We will contact as many manufacturers as possible, but will not increase the price," he said adding that some companies have already shown interest. "It is a huge project. Even after keeping the prices low, companies will benefit by selling a big number of products," said Katoch.

Suman Kapur, who headed the QuickcheQ project, said that the researchers are in the process of improvising their product and make it smaller in size. "We have already formed an in-house company. If other companies do not agree to manufacture our product at cheap rate, we will produce it ourselves," said Kapoor.

Katoch said ICMR is currently funding 12 more such projects.

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