Diabetes has reached the point where it is considered a global epidemic. There is rising concern that there will not be enough of the drug needed to treat the condition to help all of the people who need it.
Insulin is required to treat diabetes, and it allows patients to reduce their risk of blindness, kidney failure, heart problems, neuropathic pain, or amputations, because it manages the blood sugar at a safe level.
But because the continuously increasing number of people around the world being diagnosed, researchers are starting to notice that the demand will soon surpass the supply.
Nine percent of the world's adult population is currently diagnosed with diabetes, and this number has risen drastically in the last 30 years. In 1980 the total was only five percent.
If the projected rates continue as they have been, by 2030, there would be 511 million people around the world who would be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. While not all of them need insulin, many do.
"The number of adults with type 2 diabetes is expected to rise over the next 12 years due to aging, urbanization and associated changes in diet and physical activity," Dr. Sanjay Basu of Standford University said.
The problem is that even though the number of patients increases each year, researchers are expecting that more than half of those diagnosed will be unable to obtain the medicine they need to treat their condition.
The International Diabetes Foundation predicts that of the 79 million diabetic patients who will require insulin by 2030, only 38 million will have access to it.
"These estimates suggest that current levels of insulin access are highly inadequate compared to projected need, particularly in Africa and Asia, and more efforts should be devoted to overcoming this looming health challenge," Basu explained.
There are expected to be 32 million people with type 2 diabetes in the United States by 2030, and while they may not all need insulin, the country is expected to require it most. However, it's countries like Africa and Asia that see the lack of supply because of affordability and accessibility.
Basu warns that this expensive drug needs to be made more affordable for the safety of those who need it. "Unless governments begin initiatives to make insulin available and affordable, then its use is always going to be far from optimal."