Sanofi-aventis’ SITE Uncovers India’s Silent Killers Incanus Public Affairs
As India’s place in the world economy grows, raising the standard of living of its citizens and astounding economists, political leaders, and the public around the globe, its people have as rapidly moved into the crosshairs of two of the most lethal diseases of affluence: diabetes and hypertension.
International Diabetes Federation's estimates are that there are 50.8 million diabetics in India in 2010, rising to 87 million by the year 2030.The epidemic of type 2 diabetes in urban adults has been especially virulent, as the rate has in- creased from less than 3% in 1970 to 12.0% in 2000. But even rural areas are not immune. "Diabetes has risen rapidly in rural areas, with a threefold increase (from 2.4 per- cent to 6.4 percent) in rural southern India over a fourteen-year period," Health Affairs reported.
India 40.9 million
China 38.9 million
U.S. 19.2 million
Russia 9.6 million
Source: World Health Organization
Hypertension too is on the rise. Indians with hypertension are projected to number 214 million in 2025, up nearly 100 million since 2000. Thus, its scourge is even greater than diabetes. With India's fast-growing population projected to overcome China's in the next thirty years, India could achieve another global distinction: "At the current rate of hypertension we will have the largest number of people with hypertension in the world," reported the Journal of Association of Physicians of India.
There was a serious concern that awareness of diabetes and hypertension including their risk factors, symptoms and treatment options, among healthcare providers and patients alike was dangerously low.
About 18 months ago, researchers at Sanofi-Aventis [or Aventis Pharma Limited] began asking questions: Just how serious is hypertension in India? Is India facing a twin epidemic of diabetes and hypertension? How well are these diseases being diagnosed and treated? There was a serious concern that awareness of both diseases, including their risk factors, symptoms, and treatment options, among health care providers and patients alike was dangerously low.
The outcome of these internal discussions, as well as discussions with potential partners (namely, doctors, hospitals, and institutes), was the decision to launch one of India's largest studies of diabetes and hypertension prevalence. On 8th January 2009 sanofi-aventis formally announced the creation of SITE (Screening India's Twin Epidemic), a cross-sectional study to estimate the prevalence of diagnosed and undiagnosed cases of diabetes and hypertension in outpatient settings in major cities across India. Its goals? Increase disease awareness, provide healthy literacy, and that would enable better screening and treatment strategies.
The Global Epidemic
People Worldwide with Diabetes
1985 30 million
1995 135 million
2010 171 million
2030 366 million (projected)
Source: World Health Organization
"Diabetes was already posing an enormous health as well as economic problem for the country, as was hypertension," said Dr. Muruga Vadivale, Senior Director - Medical and Regulatory Affairs, sanofi-aventis India. "A large cross-sectional study could provide doctors and public health officials with valuable insights on both diseases and create awareness among medical professionals and the public about early screening for these diseases."
Today, SITE has enrolled approximately 16,000 patients from 800 centers across 8 states in India. It has partnered with 800 general practitioners and consulting physicians, to conduct the screenings and record and report the results. It is being con- ducted in waves over two years, one state at a time, with 2,000 patients screened from each state over two days per wave. On each of the two days, centers screen 10 patients, who must be over age 18 and not pregnant and have signed data-release consent form. The eight states included in the study are Maharashtra, Delhi, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh.
"Through SITE we hope to identify gaps in treatment needs at the first point of contact for a patient," said Dr. Shashank Joshi, Consultant Endocrinologist, Lilavati Hospital and National Coordinator of SITE study. "SITE will give us important insights on how we screen patients for risk factors and how well we manage them versus current guidelines."