Unique Cuban drug brings hope to diabetics
HAVANA — Luis Navarro is a young Cuban who at 34 years of age has already suffered from chronic diabetes for the past 23 years. Recently, several ulcers have appeared on his foot, putting it at risk of being amputated.
However, this has not happened, thanks to the unique Cuban product Heberprot-P, a drug that has won acclaim for its effectiveness in controlling and healing diabetic foot ulcers.
A few weeks ago, Navarro was admitted to Havana’s Institute of Angiology and Vascular Surgery, a medical institution where comprehensive treatment is given to patients suffering from chronic diabetes.
“I had a big wound on my foot and it was pretty bad. The doctors applied Heberprot-P and I could see a substantial improvement in just 20 days. Since then I have been discharged and my ulcer has almost healed,” he said.
This drug, which was registered in 2006, was created by Cuban scientist Jorge Berlanga and a team from the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology.
“The change with this drug is incredible. Heberprot-P has been the best product invented by Cuban scientists. Whoever lives with this disease knows that foot ulcers improve a lot with this treatment,” added Navarro.
In 2001, when Heberprot-P clinical trials began at this medical institution, Dr. Jose Fernandez Montequin was one of the first to use the treatment on Cuban patients.
According to Montequin, before local scientists created the drug, there were high rates of amputation among Cuba’s diabetic population.
“With the application of this medication, we were able to reduce amputation rates in the country from 70 percent to 5 percent today,” he told Xinhua.
In 2016, out of about 35,000 Cuban patients with diabetic foot ulcers, only 480 amputations were performed.
“We have improved the quality of life of patients. Patients who manage to have their ulcers healed and avoid amputations survive four more years on average than those who do not,” said Montequin.
Another benefit of Heberprot-P, according to the expert, is that its application drastically reduces the resurgence of ulcers to just 5 percent of patients treated.
Following its use in more than 450 clinics on the island, Cuban doctors and scientists have provided guidance on the product in more than 20 countries, including Russia, Kuwait, Algeria, Argentina, Ecuador, China and Venezuela.
Currently, Heberprot-P is registered in 23 countries and is used in 10 countries that have already authorized its use and marketing.
“Our product has already been used on more than 60,000 patients in Cuba and around 250,000 patients worldwide, and is capable of preventing more than 70 percent of amputations,” said Montequin.
Scientists on the island now hope to see the drug used in China, which has the largest population of diabetics in the world.
Heberprot-P is currently undergoing clinical trials in China for its future use and marketing to diabetic patients.