‘Millions of diabetes patients may not have access to insulin by 2030’

With a lack of availalibility, rising costs and increasing burden of the disease, study says over 40 million with Type 2 diabetes may not be able to procure insulin in 2030

By DTE Staff
Published: Friday 23 November 2018

The number of people with type 2 diabetes worldwide has been estimated to increase from 405.6 million in 2018 to 510·8 million by 2030, according to study by a Stanford University-led research team released on November 20.

Diabetes is a progressive disease and the body may require insulin injections to compensate for declining insulin production by the pancreas.

However, as per the study, around 33 million people with type 2 diabetes do not have access to insulin, and by 2030, the number will touch 41 million. Insulin use is estimated to increase from 516·1 million 1000 IU vials per year in 2018 to 633·7 million per year in 2030, says the study.

Type 2 diabetes comprises the majority of people with diabetes around the world, and is caused largely due to excess body weight and physical inactivity. This type of diabetes was earlier seen only in adults but it is now also occurring in children.

Doctors may initially prescribe oral medication and lifestyle changes, such as exercise and weight loss, to most people with type 2 diabetes, but they eventually need to take insulin to avoid complications like damage to the heart, kidneys, eyes, and nervous system.

The study says that the demand for insulin is likely to rise by 20% by 2030, and the lack of availability will subsequently put patients at risk of developing complications.  

If insulin was readily available, there would be over 330,000 fewer disability-adjusted life years, says the study.

The report drew data from the International Diabetes Federation and other studies, and looked at the needs of people with type 2 diabetes across 220 countries.

The International Diabetes Federation estimates that in 2010, India, China, the United States, Russia and Brazil accounted for the largest numbers of people. It further says that in 2010, Nauru, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Mauritius and Bahrain had the highest diabetes prevalence in the adult population.

“These estimates suggest that current levels of insulin access are highly inadequate compared to projected need, particularly in Africa and Asia,” Sanjay Basu, a physician and epidemiologist at Stanford University and lead author of the paper, told the Guardian. According to a American Diabetes Association, prices of insulin have almost tripled between 2002 and 2013.

A DTE report says that India harbours 73 million adults with diabetes. Reports say that low and middle income countries face the greatest burden of diabetes. It further says that in many countries, the cost of insulin injection and daily monitoring alone can consume half of a family’s average disposable income, and regular and affordable access to essential diabetes medicines are out of reach for many. “Improving access to affordable diabetes medicines and care is therefore urgent to avoid increased costs for the individual and family, which impact health outcomes.”

The study notes that unless governments take initiative to make insulin more readily available, millions suffering from diabetes are likely to go without proper treatment.

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