It is worrying that by 2030, about half of the 79mn adults around the globe predicted to have type 2 diabetes would not have access to insulin, as predicted by a latest modelling study published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology. The conclusion is that as the number of people living with diabetes continues to rise, the access to insulin needed to meet growing demand will fall short.
The study has focused on the price and dwindling supply of the life-saving drug that also helps people with types 1 and 2 diabetes stave off amputation, blindness, kidney failure and stroke. Insulin is needed to treat all people with type 1 diabetes and some people with type 2 diabetes. The latter form of the disease is strongly linked to lifestyle factors such as obesity, poor diet and physical inactivity.
Researchers from Stanford University projected type 2 diabetes numbers in 221 countries from 2018 and 2030, with half of that group living in China, India and the US. During that time, the biggest spike in need could come from Africa, where experts predict the number of people with type 2 diabetes will jump from 700,000 to over 5mn. Climbing global rates of type 2 diabetes and growing numbers of people living with the disease continue to drive up demand and prices for insulin. The drug can cost as much as $900 a month for people without insurance. Only three companies currently produce insulin. In 2016 an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that the drugâ€™s price almost tripled between 2002 and 2013.
â€śDespite the UNâ€™s commitment to treat non-communicable diseases and ensure universal access to drugs for diabetes, across much of the world insulin is scarce and unnecessarily difficult for patients to access,â€ť said Dr Sanjay Basu, assistant professor of medicine at Stanford University in the US, who led the research. Using data from the International Diabetes Federation and 14 studies to get a picture of type 2 diabetes numbers across 221 countries, Dr Basuâ€™s team modelled the burden of type 2 diabetes from 2018 to 2030.
According to a CNN report, the researchers predicted that, worldwide, the number of adults with type 2 diabetes will rise from 406mn in 2018 to 511mn in 2030. The US will have the third highest numbers globally, with 32mn people predicted to be living with the condition in 2030. â€śThe number of adults with type 2 diabetes is expected to rise over the next 12 years due to ageing, urbanisation and associated changes in diet and physical activity,â€ť said Dr Basu while adding that unless governments begin initiatives to make insulin available and affordable, then its use is always going to be far from optimal.
While it is crucial to ensure adequate supply of insulin across the world, it goes without saying that there is an urgent need for boosting awareness about bringing forth lifestyle changes that could prevent or delay the onset of diabetes among those vulnerable. A shift in dietary habits and adoption of an active lifestyle can alleviate the impending crisis.