LONDON: Worldwide epidemic of diabetes increases record insulin demand, but tens of millions will not receive the injections they need unless dramatically improved access and affordability, a new study on Wednesday (November 21st)
Diabetes – which can lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart problems, neuropathic pain and amputation – now affects 9 percent of all adults worldwide, from 5 percent in 1980.
The overwhelming majority has type 2 diabetes, which is associated with obesity and lack of exercise, and cases are spreading particularly rapidly in the developing world as people take more Western and urban lifestyles.
Researchers said that the amount of insulin needed to treat type 2 diabetes would increase over the next 12 years by more than 20%, but insulin would be out of the reach of half the 79 million type 2 diabetics expected to need it in the 2030.
This deficiency is most acute in Africa where the team led by Dr. Sanjay Basu, of Stanford University, estimates that stocks will need to be increased seven times to treat risky patients who have reached the stage of requiring insulin to control blood sugar levels.
"These estimates suggest that the current levels of insulin access are highly inadequate compared to the predicted need, especially in Africa and Asia," Basu said.
"Despite the UN's commitment to treating non-communicable diseases and ensuring universal access to diabetes medicines, insulin for patients is rare and unnecessarily difficult to access for most patients in the world."
The global supply of insulin is dominated by three companies – Novo Nordisk, Sanofi and Eli Lilly – who have different programs to improve access to their products.
However, insulin is expensive and prices may be particularly inaccessible in poorer countries, where climbing strings and high admissions often make it difficult for many patients to access them.
Overall, Bass and colleagues calculated that total insulin consumption should increase to 634 million bottles by 1,000 units by 526 million by 2018 by 2030.
Their study, published in the journal Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology and funded by the Helmsley Charitable Trust, was based on a screening of diabetes from the International Federation of Diabetics.
Dr. Hertzel Gerstein of Canadian McMaster University wrote in an accompanying comment that it is important to estimate and insure insulin supplies, but added that the prognosis should be treated with caution because they were based on mathematical models.
(Ben Hirschler Report, Adrian Croft Edit)