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Why the world is set to run out of insulin

LONDON: A global diabetes epidemic is driven by the record need for insulin, but tens of millions do not receive…

LONDON: A global diabetes epidemic is driven by the record need for insulin, but tens of millions do not receive the injections they need if there is no dramatic improvement in availability and affordability, a new study ended on Wednesday.

Diabetes – which can lead to blindness, kidney failure, cardiac problems, neuropathic pain and amputations – now affects 9% of all adults worldwide, up from 5% in 1980.

Most people have type 2 diabetes, the type associated with obesity and lack of physical exercise, and cases are spreading rapidly in developing countries, as people assume more western lifestyle.

Researchers said that the amount of insulin needed to effectively treat type 2 diabetes would rise by more than 20% over the next 1

2 years, but insulin would be beyond reach for half of 79 million type 2 diabetes patients predicted to need it in 2030.

The shortage is most acute in Africa, where the team led by Dr. Sanjay Basu of Stanford University estimated that the supply would need to rise seven times to treat the risks that had reached the stage for requiring insulin to control its blood sugar.

“These estimates indicate that current levels of insulin access are very insufficient compared to the forecasted need, especially in Africa and Asia,” said Basu.

“Despite the United Nations commitment to treat non-communicable diseases and ensure universal access to drugs for diabetes, insulin is barely and unnecessarily difficult for patients to access.”

Global insulin supply is dominated by three companies – Novo Nordisk, Sanofi and Eli Lilly – who have different programs to try to improve access to their products. However, insulin is still expensive and prices may be particularly insufficient in poorer countries where difficult supply chains and high markers of intermediaries often make it unacceptable for many patients.

Overall, Basu and colleagues estimated that global insulin use would rise to 634 million 1000 bottles by 2030 from 526 million in 2018.

The study, published in the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology Journal, and funded by the Helmsley Charitable Trust, was based on predictions about the diabetes diagnosis of the International Diabetes Federation. Dr Hertzel Gerstein of Canada’s McMaster University wrote in a accompanying comment that it was important to estimate and insure insulin deliveries, but that the forecasts should be treated carefully because they were based on mathematical models.

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