bovine spongiform encephalopathy ( bse ) or mad cow disease, which has continued to trouble many European nations, is affecting India as well. Diabetic children are bearing the brunt of the disease as they have to pay four times more for genetically-engineered human insulin, which is the only alternative available in place of the bovine insulin that is derived from cow blood.
Many European pharmaceutical companies have stopped manufacturing the low-cost insulin because of the risk of spreading bse . A vial of bovine insulin costs between Rs 50 and Rs 70, while human insulin costs between Rs 210 and Rs 250. One vial comprises 400 units and, on an average, a diabetic child needs 20 to 40 units daily. Diabeticians have expressed their concern about the shortage as treatment of juvenile diabetes depends heavily on bovine insulin.