The Fighter
    Category: Companies & People By : Sonya Angraini Read : 1670 Date : Friday, February 13, 2015 - 19:17:25

    Ahmad Zamroni / Forbes Indonesia

    Diabetes in Indonesia has not received much attention, but it is actually one of the top three killers in the country, with the other two being hypertension and cancer. Indonesia has the fifth highest number of diabetics in the world, with an estimate of around 9.1 million, according to the International Diabetes Foundation (IDF). It is predicted that as many as 14 million could have diabetes by 2035.

    The top company for diabetes treatment in the country is Danish drug firm Novo Nordisk, which claims about a 70% share of the market by sales. The firm specializes in treatment of diabetic drugs, a focus from its founding more than 90 years ago, when one of the founders was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. “We are very much dedicated to diabetes,” says Sandeep Sur, general manager of PT Novo Nordisk Indonesia. “Diabetes is our passion and our business.” The company provides full range of insulin, from basic human insulin to hormone insulin, and it usually launches a new product every two years.

    The company built on that diabetes expertise to become a global firm, with offices in 75 countries and marketing products in 180. It had $11 billion in sales for the first nine months of 2014. The firm devotes a whopping 14% of sales to R&D, which it conducts in Denmark, China and the U.S. “It can take up to 12 years of research to launch a product,” says Sandeep, 44. After depending solely on a local distributor to market its products in Indonesia since 1990, the company became a full entity in 2003. “The important thing is focus,” adds Sandeep. “We now have the ownership.”

    The growth of diabetes in Indonesia has been linked to its growing wealth and urbanization, as the population changes its diet and exercises less. One problem with diabetes is that it often goes undiagnosed. Data from IDF also shows that about six out of 10 people are unaware that they have diabetes because the symptoms do not suddenly happen. Sandeep explains that there are only 90 doctors available in the country specializing in diabetes care. Compared with those diagnosed, the number is clearly not enough.

    Of those who are afflicted in Indonesia, Sandeep says, less than 15% are diagnosed and less than 1% get proper treatment. Sandeep notes this type of environment creates both opportunities and challenges for the company. The opportunity is a huge growth market in Indonesia. The challenges, however, include lack of awareness, inadequate healthcare, lack of resources, and limited access and facilities.

    The company collaborates with doctors and professional organizations to provide training and build expertise. “When people get sick, first they will consult with general physicists, so they have to diagnose patients early and refer them to specialists,” says Sandeep. He adds that treating diabetes takes time and doctors can’t simply give antibiotics to patients. Doctors need to provide plenty of counseling and talk to the patient’s families, he explains.