In the Philippines where about four million adults are diagnosed with diabetes, the majority of type 2 patients have common comorbidities and complications, including heart disease and obesity.
More than 32 percent of those with type 2 diabetes have cardiovascular complications, while more than 87 percent are either overweight or obese.
Danish multinational pharmaceutical firm Novo Nordisk, a global leader in diabetes care, is encouraging Filipinos to become more aware of the risks associated with type 2 diabetes and the innovative treatment options.
It has recently launched a once-weekly injectable glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist which, in studies involving over 10,000 type 2 diabetes patients, has led to greater reductions in both blood sugar levels and body weight and has provided cardiovascular benefits.
Dr. Michael Villa, president of the Philippine Society of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, described the new treatment as “welcome news,” adding that a once-a-week treatment is “very convenient.”
“Type 2 makes up for about 85 percent of the population of patients with diabetes. Coupled with type 2 diabetes, these patients have multiple risk factors. These are mostly adult patients. Some are smokers, some are hypertensive, some have cholesterol problems. This is an area that needs to be addressed, and this is exactly why we are raising concerns with these types of patients,” he said.
Dr. Gilbert Vilela, vice president of the Philippine Heart Association, underscored how diabetes – the fourth leading cause of mortality among Filipinos in 2020 – has remained a silent and persisting problem, especially amid the pandemic.
“For the past three years, ischemic heart disease, cancer, and pneumonia have been listed as the top three causes of death in Filipinos, with diabetes following in fourth place. However, the news here is that the increase in ischemic heart disease is only 2.3 percent, while cancer went down by about 10 percent, and pneumonia by about 6 percent. Diabetes went up by 7.8 percent,” Vilela said.
“The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have directly affected diabetes control—there is the lack of accessibility, the limitation of movement and lack of exercise, and an increase in anxiety and fear among patients and their families,” he added.
For Novo Nordisk, it is committed to continue playing a vital role in introducing research and development-based innovative diabetes.
“Novo Nordisk is committed to developing innovative medicines to help Filipinos living with diabetes lead longer and healthier lives. We’re at the forefront of innovating GLP-1 treatments, helping people with type 2 diabetes address cardiovascular risk and its other multiple risk factors. This is how we express our unique Novo Nordisk brand of care — by addressing the unmet needs of people with diabetes,” said Cihan Serdar Kizilcik, Vice-President and General Manager of Novo Nordisk Philippines.