By Adebayo Oladejo
Biofem Pharmaceuticals limited, in partnership with Structured Healthcare Initiative (STRUHI), recently organised a workshop on management of diabetes mellitus at the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry Conference and Exhibition Centre, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos.
The one-day capacity building programme was graced by three distinguished speakers, which include Dr Anthonia Ogbera, an endocrinologist and associate professor of medicine, Lagos State College of Medicine (LASUCOM); Dr Ifedayo Odeniyi, a lecturer and consultant endocrinologist, Lagos University Teaching Hospital; and Pharm Modupe Oyawole, assistant director of pharmaceutical services, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH).
While delivering a lecture on the topic, “Diabetic Neuropathy: Clinical Perspective”, Dr Ifedayo Odeniyi defined diabetes mellitus as a disease of metabolic dysregulation, most notably abnormal glucose metabolism, accompanied by characteristic long term complications. He added that the complications include retinopathy, nephropathy and neuropathy.
Explaining further, the consultant endocrinologist asserted that diabetic neuropathy is the presence of symptoms or signs of peripheral nerve dysfunction in people with diabetes after other causes have been excluded. He noted that causes of diabetic neuropathy include metabolic factors such as high blood glucose, long duration of diabetes, abnormal blood fat levels, and possibly low levels of insulin.
Ifedayo also explained that diabetes mellitus is not a death sentence but a challenge to healthy living, adding that if patients know their condition and manage it properly by working hand-in-hand with their doctors, they can live for as long as possible.
Speaking in the same vein, Dr Anthonia Ogbera explained that, diabetic neuropathies are the most common complications of diabetes mellitus, adding that neuropathy reduces the quality of life of a diabetic individual. According to her, secondary complications of neuropathies are serious and can lead to situations like falls, fractures, amputations and even death.
Concerning the risk factors for the development of diabetes mellitus, Ogbera disclosed that nutritional factors, poor glycaemic control, cigarette smoking, alcohol, hypertension, dyslipidemia and hypertryglyceridemia are the modifiable risk factors. She added that old age, gender (male especially), height, family history of neuropathy disease, longer duration of diabetes as well as angiotensin-converting enzyme genotype are the non-modifiable risk factors. She also observed that the only key to preventing neuropathy in diabetes mellitus is to maintain good glycaemic control.
In her own contribution, Pharm. Modupe Oyawole, assistant director of pharmaceutical services, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, who delivered a paper on the topic: ‘Drug Adherence in Diabetes Mellitus’ disclosed that the common belief that patients are solely responsible for taking their treatment is misleading and most often reflects a misunderstanding of how other factors affect people’s behaviour and motivation to adhere to their medications. She explained that adherence is a multi-dimensional phenomenon determined by the interplay of factors, which include: social economic factors, healthcare team and system-related factors, condition-related factors, therapy related factors and patient-related factors.
She further noted that among patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus, adherence to prescribed medications has been reportedly low, while insisting that better adherence promotes better outcomes and that non-adherent patients are more likely to require hospitalisation and incur higher healthcare costs. “As multiple studies employing large managed care databases have demonstrated, improvements in outcomes and reductions in costs related to the management of diabetes require focused, concerted efforts toward facilitating treatment adherence…Non adherence takes its focus from several sources, including the patient, the health system, the health care team as well as the disease and the drugs. Resolving non-adherence issues therefore requires the input of all stakeholders because the positive correlation between non-adherence and poor treatment outcomes makes a case for stricter medication adherence for the diabetic patient in order to improve their quality of life and delay the onset of complications. It is important to ensure that non-adherence is not only resolved, but it is prevented,” she said.
Speaking earlier with Pharmanews in an interview, Pharm. Olaide Soetan, regional manager (Lagos), Biofem Pharmaceuticals, said the motive behind the programme was to further enhance the good relationship the company already had with doctors and other medical professionals and as well to build capacity in the non-teaching hospitals, especially in Lagos State. “This is the second time we are doing something like this and we actually organised this based on the feedback we got from the previous one and this time around, we are taking it much higher than the first one,” she revealed.
She also said that the company had identified some problems in the management of diabetes mellitus, especially in terms of diabetes neuropathy, noting that the options that were available for treatment were very limited. She disclosed, however, thatBiofem has been able to profer solution to the challenge through the introduction of two major products, Biopentin, which is a combination of Gabapentin and Methylcobalamin; and Biobetic, which is a combination of Alpha-LipoicAcid and Methylcobalamin, into the market for the management of diabetes neuropathy.
Asked about the distinguishing qualities of the products and the company’s strategy to guard against counterfeiting, she explained that the products are relatively new and are being introduced at a time when there are not many competing brands. “I want to say that the products are coming to fulfil a yearning need that has been in the market, especially for the management of diabetes neuropathy,” she said. Before the arrival of these products, so many patients had been suffering in silence, but we believed that with the arrival of the two products, patients and even the medical practitioners can heave a sigh of relief because these are trusted products they have been yearning for. Talking about faking, we have no problem at Biofem because apart from the fact that we were the first company that pioneered the Mobile Authentication Services (MAS), we as well have it as a principle that all our products must carry the MAS symbol, so that any of our customers can conveniently confirm the authenticity of the product instantly”.
“Biofem is a research-oriented company,” she continued, and we don’t just introduce products into the market anyhow. We focus on some important areas and diabetes is one of the important areas where we have decided to pitch our tents. At Biofem, we have drugs that offer solutions to all forms of problems arising from diabetes and, apart from the new products, we also have over seven different products that are tailored towards the management of diabetes.We are using this opportunity to tell all medical practitioners that what they have always yearned for is now at their doorsteps.”