‘Vast Access Gaps’ in Diabetes Treatment

People living with diabetes and others protest at the New York Stock Exchange on World Diabetes Day 2019. Nov. 14, 2019. Image: Erik McGregor/LightRocket/Getty
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People living with diabetes and others protest at the New York Stock Exchange on World Diabetes Day 2019. Nov. 14, 2019. Image: Erik McGregor/LightRocket/Getty

High prices, hard-to-access human insulin, few insulin producers, and weak health systems are just some of the barriers that people with diabetes face a century after insulin was discovered, WHO notes in a new report ahead of World Diabetes Day on Sunday.

537 million adults worldwide live with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, according to the International Diabetes Federation.

Takeaways from the WHO report:

  • 9 million people with type 1 diabetes and 60 million people with type 2 rely on insulin.
  • 75% of people with type 2 diabetes live outside North America and Europe.
  • Half of people who need insulin for type 2 diabetes can’t access it.


Problem 1: 3 multinational corporations control 90% of the global insulin market, which has shifted from relatively low-cost human insulin to synthetic insulins that can cost 1.5X to 3X as much.

Problem 2: The need to store insulin at 2–8 degrees C presents a major cold-chain challenge in low- and middle-income countries, according to The Lancet. Some people keep insulin cool by storing it in clay pots or “filling camel stomachs with water.” But: Patients often aren’t told that research has found that insulin can be stored for up to 4 weeks at temperatures between 25 and 37 degrees C .

Flashback: “The scientists who discovered insulin 100 years ago refused to profit from their discovery and sold the patent for just one dollar,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement. “Unfortunately, that gesture of solidarity has been overtaken by a multi-billion-dollar business that has created vast access gaps.”
 
 
Related: 

Blood pressure drugs could prevent type 2 diabetes, study finds – The Guardian

COVID-19 more deadly in Africans with diabetes – WHO Africa Regional Office for Africa

Catching It Early: Doctors Seeing Rise In Diabetes In Younger Population – KDKA (Pittsburgh)
 

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