Pharmaceutical firm MSD will launch an iPhone app designed to help Muslim diabetics control their blood sugar level while fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.
The firm, which manufactures the diabetes medicine Januvia, said the app will help diabetes sufferers monitor their vital statistics during the month of fasting.
“Diabetics will be able to put in their information; their weight, information that they’ll be discussing with their doctor and then they’ll use that to follow up on their treatment regiment throughout the [fasting period],” Andrew Miles, managing director for MSD in the Gulf, told Arabian Business.
“It addresses a cultural need and at the same time provides information on how to appropriately deal with fasting during that period,” he added.
Rates of diabetes in the region have skyrocketed with the number of people suffering in the Middle East and North Africa expected to double from 366m in 2011 to 552m by 2030, according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF).
By 2030, 11 percent of residents in the MENA region will be living with diabetes while six out of the world’s top ten countries with the highest prevalence of diabetes are in the region, IDF has said.
More than 50m people with diabetes fast worldwide during Ramadan despite changes in eating patterns potentially putting sufferers at risk of both low and high blood sugar.
The Muslim fasting month of Ramadan this year is expected to begin July 21 with Eid Al Fitr falling on August 19.
MSD’s once-a-day Januvia enables those who observe the holy month to take the pill before starting their fast, said Miles. “Many [Muslims] choose to fast because it’s a once-a-day pill that are you able to take before beginning [the] fast and then have coverage until the period when you can break your fast.”
Arab governments are ramping up their investment in new medicines and treatment. The cost of treating diabetes costs the Middle East is US$5.5bn annually and accounts for 14 percent of total healthcare expenditure in the region.
Sales of MSD’s Januvia increased 24 percent to US$919m in the first quarter of 2012, the firm said in April. The Januvia diabetes franchise has become the firm’s biggest growth engine.