Insulin is a life-saving medicine in Type 1 diabetes, which usually has onset in youth.
Being without daily injections of insulin for even a few weeks is a death sentence and a painful one at that. In Type 2 diabetes insulin is often needed as well. The cost of insulin varies greatly in different countries.
This is a critical problem, particularly in those countries where the full, unsubsidised price is high and must constantly be paid for by the user or the family over many years or decades. In many developing countries, insulin can cost more than 50% of average annual income.
The inability to afford insulin is resulting in the earlier development of complications and premature death of persons with diabetes, increasingly in their most economically productive years.
In stark contrast, the price of insulin in developed economies is usually heavily subsidised by governments or insurance arrangements. As a result, the yearly cost of insulin is usually well below 0.3% of average annual income – less than $US 3 each month. If persons in developed economies had to pay the same relative amount for insulin, it would cost them approximately $US1000 each month ($US12,000 each year) i.e. at least 100 times more expensive in relative terms.
Insulin-requiring diabetes continues to increase alarmingly and therefore the problem is becoming both more urgent and severe.