According to the study published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal, without major policy changes to make insulin more affordable and improve access, around half of the 79 million adults with type 2 diabetes won’t get the life-saving drug.
Insulin is essential for all people with type 1 diabetes and some people with type 2 diabetes to prevent complications such as blindness, amputation, kidney failure and stroke. As global rates of type 2 diabetes soar and diabetics live longer, insulin treatment remains costly, running as high as $900 a month for patients without health insurance.
Further exacerbating the dilemma, there are only three major manufacturers of insulin: Novo Nordisk, Sanofi, and Lilly. The three companies were hit with a lawsuit in 2017, accused of conspiring to drive up the price of insulin. A study in The Journal of the American Medical Association found that the price of insulin nearly tripled from 2002 to 2013.
The findings are of particular concern for Africa and Asia, which the study predicts will have the largest unmet insulin need in 2030 if access remains at current levels.