I picked up my repeat prescription this week, and asked the all-important question. By the time I’m ready for the next one, Brexit is supposed to have taken place*. Will the UK’s insulin supplies run out?
As one of life’s optimists, I tend to ignore worst-case scenario planners, which makes me either naive, stupid or just someone who prefers to live in the now, as worrying about the future and events I have little control over seems pointless. It’s likely I’m all three.
Anyway, at the pharmacy I asked the chemist if I should stockpile insulin, seeing as very little of it is manufactured in the UK and insulin seems to get mentioned in the same sentence as food whenever people talk about stockpiling. As it happens, I have lots of one particular insulin, the rapid acting stuff, while my supplies of the long-acting stuff needs regular replacing. If the worst comes to the worst, I can beg an insulin pump from someone and use that…
No-one’s talking about it…
“If they are stock-piling, no-one’s talking about it,” the chemist told me, “And we’ve heard nothing officially.”
She didn’t then add, “If I were you, though, I’d make sure you’ve got four months’ supply at least and contemplate taking your diet as low-carb as possible so you don’t need as much.” I’ve made that advice up, obviously, but she didn’t add any caveats so either someone higher up in the medical supplies chain has decided on a policy of silence or the fears aren’t justified.
Ms Stupid/Naive/Live in the Moment has decided to leave worrying about her insulin supplies for now. There are many other factors which could affect insulin supplies in the future too—climate change, fuel shortages, war or the Zombie apocalypse, coming to a town near you all too soon.
And of course, the biggest factor is the soaring rates of type 2 diabetes. According to a recent report, about 33 million people who need insulin currently do not have access to the drug. That figure is expected to rise to 41 million by 2030. A lot of these shortages apply to people in Africa and Asia where increasing urbanisation, more sedentary lifestyles and changes to diet have led to soaring numbers of type 2 diabetics. In the States, however, insulin shortages also affect the population as prices have risen sharply over the last few years. Three companies dominate the market, and proof once again that free market systems seldom contribute to the greater good.
*And goodness knows what will happen on the 29th.