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Insulin shortage could affect millions by 2030, study predicts

Posted at 11:53 PM, Nov 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-27 10:52:32-05

In a little more than a decade more than 40 million diabetics worldwide could be left without insulin, the drug that is needed to help control the disease. It's a dire prediction from a study published in the journal Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology that could have life altering consequences. 

Our health expert, Dr. Dahlia Wachs, likened insulin to being the key to a door. In most people it's a naturally occurring hormone the pancreas secretes when we eat sugar so that it can go from the bloodstream and into our cells.

But for for the millions of people whose bodies either don't make insulin,

"Type one diabetics -- they are very dependent on insulin," said Dr. Wachs "They don't make insulin. They get very skinny and we have to give them insulin. There really isn't a lot of other treatments for these Type 1 diabetics.”

Or who have insulin resistance,

 "So those with Type 2 diabetes. Many of them can take pills, but if they are in poor control we have to give them insulin," Dr. Wachs said.

A shortage of insulin in drug form poses major challenges. Dr. Wachs said insulin is expensive to make. She says only three major pharmaceutical companies make it. And the demand isn't the highest here in the U.S,, but other parts of the world Africa and Asia. However, the U.S. will have the third highest number of people living with diabetes by 2030.

Diabetes is growing at an epidemic rate in the United States. More than 12 percent of the adult population in Nevada is diabetic according to the Centers for Disease Control.  Every year 10,000 people are diagnosed with diabetes and an estimated 75,000 have diabetes and don't know it. 

"So what can we do to prevent the shortage? Well, try to prevent diabetes," said Dr. Wachs.

That means controlling obesity, exercising and eating healthy.