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By 2030, it is estimated that over 79 million adults will need insulin to help manage their medical condition. However, a recent study reveals that the future demand of insulin will not be met under current conditions.

After collecting data from the International Diabetes Federation and comparing 14 studies, Dr. Sanjay Basu, an assistant professor of medicine at Stanford University, and his team estimate that the number of adults with type 2 diabetes will rise from 406 million in 2018 to 511 million in 2030. Out of 221 countries, the United States will have the third highest numbers, with 32 million people. 

Although not all Type 2 diabetics will require insulin, there will be a 20% rise in the demand for the drug. Based on our current resources, only 38 million will access to insulin, leaving over 41 million patients without insulin.

Even though the United Nations has promised universal access to drugs for diabetes, many people around the world find insulin a scarce or incredibly difficult to access.

Diabetic patients in the African, Asian, and Oceania regions will be heavily affected in regards to accessibility. Many countries located in these regions do not have the infrastructure or resource networks to support and manage those with diabetes.

Accessibility is not the only problem when it comes to insulin. Rising cost is also a pressing issue.

From 2002 to 2012, the United States went from spending $10 billion to $22 billion on diabetes drugs. Lantus, one of the most popular insulins available, experienced a significant markup, from $40 a vial in 2001 to $275 a vial in 2018.

Insulin is necessary to treat those with type 1 diabetes and sometimes for those with type 2 diabetes. For someone with type 1 diabetes, patients require two or three vials of insulin per month. Those who have more of a resistant to insulin, such as type 2 diabetics, can go through 6 or more vials. Diabetics who are required to use multiple vials of insulin a month can easily rack up a sizable bill.

Due to how the lack of availability and cost, patients will often take less than they are prescribed. By taking less than the prescribed dosage, patients may experience severe complications such as blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, amputation, or even death.

Sanjay Basu cautions that unless the government creates new initiatives between now and 2030, insulin users will find it more difficult to afford and access insulin.