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Innovation Love Story: Diabetic Ulcers are more serious than you may imagine. Innovator, Milind Choudhari from WeInnovate shares his thoughts with InvenTrust

Diabetic ulcers are an underline hidden issue for a very long time. Every 15 seconds there is a lower limb amputation happening in India. This impacts the whole family if the foot of earning person is amputated. Longer healing time reduces the productive working hours causing a huge economical quake. Sadly, the problem is grave in rural settings. People in rural settings are not aware about diabetes, most of them don’t even know if they have diabetes. Where in urban areas only 25% of diabetic patients may get DFUs, in rural the number increases to 100%. There some obvious reasons for this estimate. One, Awareness – Patients don’t know if they are diabetic and thus efforts to maintain blood sugar levels are never taken. Second, Diet – increased sugar and carbs intake makes the problem worse. Third, Poverty – the average household income in India is less than 5000 INR/ month and that makes it extremely difficult to access advance treatments. Fourth and most important, Footwear – people with improper footwear and barefoot will have ulcers for sure. A small granule can also cause ulcer if a person has diabetic neuropathy.

 

Such underline reasons are leading to increasing reported incidences of DFUs. This is leading to an 11-13 % compounded annual growth of DFU market. It brings up the DFU care market close to 650 crores with close to 22 million reported patients, only in India. Most market estimates are based on patients using existing solutions and are in mainstream of care. This leads to a miscalculation of the actual market. A huge proportion of patients are in rural settings who are never reflected in the mainstream therapy. 72% of the Indian population is in rural settings and 75% of experts/physicians are in urban conditions. Thus, the market that we see is just the tip of the iceberg. Current treatment options with their full potential are only in the 10% of the market and there are also obvious reasons to that. One reason is metro centricity. Most solutions are bulky, power consuming machines, making them incredibly difficult to penetrate out of Tier 1 cities. Cost is another major factor at play here. One session’s cost varies from 2000-5000 INR depending on the hospital and the total therapy cost varies form INR 1-10Lacs. According one estimate, a DFU patient spends close to 30% of their annual income on treatment.

 

Thus, the whole DFU sector is at a juncture where there is a great need of differentiating efforts in all the domains like newer therapies, awareness, affordability and collaborations. There is a huge need of dialog in this area. The motivation behind choosing such a problem, for WeInnovate, was to work for underline areas which are rapidly growing but never got much attention of large players. Wound care still looks like a niche market for top pharma companies to work on, which makes it an urgent problem to address.