Will the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation Disarm India's Diabetes Time Bomb?

There is a diabetes epidemic in India, and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation is working hard to reverse this deadly trend by awarding $1.6 million in grants to five Indian organizations through its Together on Diabetes program. Launched in 2010, Together on Diabetes is a five-year, $100 million initiative to help improve the outcomes of people living with type 2 diabetes in the United States, China, and India.

Related: Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation: Grants for Global Health

From 2010 to 2011, the number of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes grew by 11.6 million. Currently, more than 62 million in India suffer from the disease. India comes in third behind the United States and China in total type 2 diabetes cases. Experts cite a number of factors for this growing trend, the most prevalent being that the increase in the average Indian's wealth is becoming dangerous to people's health. In fact, the International Diabetes Federation predicts that by 2030, an estimated 100 million people will suffer from type 2 diabetes.

The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation is doling out its $1.6 million in grants to the Mamta Health Institute for Mother and Child, Sanjivani Health and Relief Committee, All India Institute of Diabetes and Research, and the Swasthya Diabetes Hospital. Together, these institutions will focus on diabetes education, prevention, and care among the rural, tribal, and urban poor.

Each of the organizations also will focus on other efforts to stem the increase of type 2 diabetes in India. The Mamta Health Institute for Mother and Child will conduct research on the integration of community health workers and different forms of disease prevention and control. The All India Institute of Diabetes and Research will work with Swasthya Diabetes Hospital to improve access to diabetes education and care, and the Sanjivani Health and Relief Committee will conduct a four-year study to identify early warning signs of diabetes.

It looks like the organizations are hitting type 2 diabetes from many different angles. I don't want to burst Bristol-Myers' philanthropic bubble — but here's a little something to ponder: Onglyza, a type 2 diabetes medication made by Bristol-Myers, starts at a price of more than $200 USD for 30 tablets. That's a little over 11,000 Indian Rupees. How often a diabetic has to take the drug varies and is determined by his or her caregiver, but if the amount of insulin a person needs increases after each meal, it's safe to assume that a diabetic will have to take the pill more than once a day. Is the possibility of Bristol-Myers Squibb decreasing the price for those who can't afford it such a radical idea?