Combatting diabetes in Italy

Guest post by Vincenzo Navarra, Senior Director Diabetes Business Unit, and Concetto Vasta, Senior Director Corporate Affairs, from Lilly Italia.


“Diabetes R&D is crucial from many perspectives: around 10% of all health care costs in Italy are related to diabetes, but more pertinently, its indirect costs on society are extreme, from a public health perspective and the negative human impact it has on quality of life, family relationships, and work-life balance.”

These words were spoken by the Italian Deputy Minister for Universities and Research, Lorenzo Fioramonti, at a recent fundraising event celebrated in Milan for the two major foundations for healthcare professionals specializing in diabetes in Italy, AMD and SID.

Co-hosted by Lilly, the Italian Ministry of Health, the Lombardy Regional Government, the City of Milan, and the Italian Pharmacists’ Federation, the event brought together policymakers, regulators, scientific experts, industry representatives and professional associations seeking to increase awareness of the challenges of diabetes in Italy and raise funds for the aforementioned foundations.

Diabetes represents a major public health challenge in Italy. The Governor of Lombardy, Attilio Fontana, who also spoke at the event, stated that in his region alone, 800,000 people have diabetes. R&D on diabetes is extensive across the world, and in Italy itself: Italy ranks 3rd globally in peer-reviewed publication of research on endocrine-metabolic topics. But the incidence of diabetes is increasing due to lifestyle and nutrition factors. In 2030, it is expected that the number of diagnosed cases of diabetes in Italy will be 5 million, according to Diabete Italia.

Solutions therefore lie in awareness-raising and behavior change as well as science. The commitment to tackling the medical, social and economic burden of diabetes and the collaborative effort of the regional Government of Lombardi should be an example to other European regions and countries to take a holistic approach to tackle diabetes.

 Eli Lilly Italia opened in 1959 in Sesto Fiorentino (Florence). Since 2003, it has specialized in the production of insulin. Sesto is amongst the most cutting-edge facilities in Italy for the production of biochemical insulin, and also produces auto-injectors for the treatment of Type 1 Diabetes, and hosts testing facilities. The plant, which employs over 1,200 people, exports 98% of its production across the world.