Global insulin demands set to skyrocket by 20% over next 12 years

Global insulin demands are set to skyrocket by more than 20% over the next 12 years as more people battle type 2 diabetes

  • Obesity epidemic is causing rates of type 2 diabetes to surge across the world
  • 79million people will need insulin by 2030 but around half won’t be able to get it
  • Only option is for access to the life-saving hormone to be dramatically improved 
  • Stark warning comes via study in the Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology journal
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Millions of people will struggle to access life-saving insulin as the diabetes epidemic continues.

According to a study published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, the numbers of people living with type 2 diabetes will increase by more than 20 per cent over the next 12 years.

Specifically, data from the International Diabetes Federation estimates the number of patients worldwide will increase from 406million to 511million by 2030.

The majority of these people will live in China (130million), India (98million) and the US (32million).

And, although only 79million of these will need the life-saving hormone, only half will be able to get it.  

Increase: Data from the International Diabetes Federation estimates that worldwide numbers of people living with type 2 diabetes will increase from 406million to 511million by 2030

‘These estimates suggest that current levels of insulin access are highly inadequate compared to projected need,’ said Stanford University’s Dr Sanjay Basu, who led the research.

He added this was ‘particularly in Africa and Asia, and more efforts should be devoted to overcoming this looming health challenge.

‘Despite the UN’s commitment to treat non-communicable diseases and ensure universal access to drugs for diabetes, across much of the world insulin is scarce and unnecessarily difficult for patients to access.

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‘The number of adults with type 2 diabetes is expected to rise over the next 12 years due to ageing, urbanisation, and associated changes in diet and physical activity. 

‘Unless governments begin initiatives to make insulin available and affordable, then its use is always going to be far from optimal.’

Part of the issue appears to be that demand has increased alongside cost, which has spiked in recent years – particularly in the US, where it’s increasingly unaffordable.

Meanwhile, production is currently controlled by three big pharma companies. 

Geography: Most people who’ll struggle to access insulin will be from China, India or the US

Dr Tim Reed, from Health Action International, which funded the study, said better access to insulin was essential.

‘Governments should use this information to plan for growing need,’ he told The Guardian. 

‘By shedding light on the sheer numbers of people affected, we are once again reminded of the important role universal health coverage can play in improving lives. 

‘This is particularly pressing because, according to our data, the greatest need occurs where health systems are weak, and availability and affordability is poor.’


Diabetes is a serious life-long condition that occurs when the amount of sugar in the blood is too high because the body can’t use it properly.

Patients have to regular monitor their glucose levels to prevent them from developing any potentially fatal complications.

Type 1 diabetes patients are often recommended to test their blood sugar at least four times a day. For type 2 patients, doctors advise to test twice a day.

Blood glucose levels should be between the ranges of 3.5–5.5mmol/L before meals and less than 8mmol/L, two hours after meals.

Diabetes patients have to regular monitor their glucose levels to prevent them from developing any potentially fatal complications

Hypoglycemia (when blood sugar drops below 4 mmol/L) can occasionally lead to patients falling into comas in severe cases.

However, it most often can be treated through eating or drinking 15-20g of fast acting carbohydrate, such 200ml of Lucozade Energy Original.

Sufferers can tell they are experiencing a hypo when they suddenly feel tired, have difficulty concentrating or feel dizzy.

Type 1 diabetes patients are more likely to experience a hypo, because of the medications they take, including insulin.

Hyperglycemia (when blood sugar is above 11.0 mmol/L two hours after a meal) can also have life-threatening complications.

It happens when the body either has too little insulin, seen in type 1, or it can’t use its supply properly, most often in type 2.

In the short-term, it can lead to conditions including ketoacidosis – which causes ketones to be released into the body. 

If left untreated, hyperglycemia can lead to long-term complications, such as impotence and amputations of limbs.

Regular exercise can help to lower blood sugar levels over time, and following a healthy diet and proper meal planning can also avoid dangerous spikes.  

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