Huge diabetes spike could leave millions without insulin

A new study warns that demand for insulin to treat type 2 diabetes may increase more than 20-percent by 2030, but that half of patients around the world may be unable to get the treatment. The medication is vital for many diabetics who may otherwise suffer severe health consequences due to the health condition.

The study, which was led by Stanford University’s Sanjay Basu, found that health care providers may see a 20-percent global increase in demand for insulin in order to effectively treat type 2 diabetics. Assuming the estimate is correct, this big uptick will take place in a little over a decade, but access and affordability will leave around half of patients without treatment.

Only three major companies produce the majority of the world’s insulin and, at least according to a lawsuit filed last year, may have conspired to drive up the drug’s cost. Past research has found that insulin cost almost tripled between 2002 and 2013, underscoring the affordability issue.

The most recent study out of Stanford used data from multiple past studies to model the anticipated amount of insulin that will be needed for type 2 diabetes from now until 2030. Based on that data, the researchers estimate that the number of adult type 2 diabetics will increase from 406 million to 511 million, with more than half of them being located in the US, India, and China.

Increasing insulin access will have the greatest impact on African countries, according to the study, with Asia being a close second. Assuming insulin access remains the same in 2030 as it is today, the study found that type 2 diabetics in Africa and Asia will have the greatest unmet needs.