Emerging countries are developing 'western' diseases

A doctor (L) checks the blood sugar level of a passerby at a free blood sugar level check-up camp.

Jeremy Hobson: Today in New York, the United Nations will host its first high-level meetings on
diseases like diabetes and cancer. More people in emerging economies are developing these diseases.

And as Marketplace's Jennifer Collins reports, tackling them will cost the world billions.

Jennifer Collins: Miller Tabak health care strategist Les Funtleyder says people develop these diseases because they have more money to spend.

Les Funtleyder: One of the side effects, if you will, of a developing economy is the that the diseases are becoming more western.

Illnessness like Type 2 diabetes or heart disease. The World Health Organization says about $10 billion a year is needed for treatment.

Ala Alwan: The cost of investment is generally low.

Ala Alwan leads the effort at the W.H.O.

Alwan: It is low compared to the economic losses. It is low compared to the millions of premature deaths that could be avoided.

Major pharma companies like GlaxoSmithKline, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi Aventis will be at the U.N. meetings this week. Why? Les Funtleyer says people who have more money to spend on food also have more to spend on drugs.

Funtleyder: So now it's actually a growth market for pharma.

Which is attractive as growth in the U.S. pharmaceutical industry levels off.

I'm Jennifer Collins for Marketplace.

About the author

Jennifer Collins is a reporter for the Marketplace portfolio of programs. She is based in Los Angeles, where she covers media, retail, the entertainment industry and the West Coast.


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