US Medical Equipment Entrepreneurs Set to Profit from Spike in India Diabetes Cases

As wealth increases in emerging markets and citizens are able to afford richer foods, the medical consequences of prosperity are creating opportunities for entrepreneurs in the developed world, long accustomed to treating ailments common among the wealthy.

A prime example: India. As the economy has experienced breakneck growth over the past few years, raising tens of millions into a middle-class lifestyle, one of the less-positive changes has been the explosion in diabetes -- commonly a disease that becomes more prevalent as people adopt a more Westernized, calorie-heavy diet.

So widespread is the public health problem of diabetes that country that the country's health minister recently announced plans to screen every Indian citizen, some 1.17 billion people, for signs of the disease. An Indian finance magazine estimates the market for anti-diabetic treatments will grow at a compound growth rate of 13 percent into 2019.

As negative as the development has been for Indians with the ailment, the trend has been a boon for the international diabetes supply industry.

And while that industry is dominated by large multinationals like Roche Diagnostics and Novo Nordisk, the sheer size of the Indian diabetic population -- approximately one out of every five diabetics in the world is an Indian citizen -- opens up opportunities for entrepreneurs large and small.

For example, opportunities abound for companies like Calibra Medical, a California company that is at the forefront of developing an insulin-delivery patch, and for Flexible Medical Systems, a Maryland startup that developed a glucose-monitoring mechanism which does not require blood to be drawn. 

California-based Tandem Diabetes Care, which is marketing a newly-approved diabetes pump and is expanding rapidly, is also a prime candidate to capitalize on India's growing need for diabetes care. 

So strong is the rising demand for diabetes care in India that Johnson and Johnson's LifeScan unit has been alerting Indian consumers to a flood of counterfeit glucose test strips.

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