Study reveals record rise in insulin use

February 6, 2014

The use of insulin to treat type 2 diabetes has trebled in the UK over the last 20 years, a new study has revealed.

In a study published in the Journal of Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, a team of academics from Cardiff University and the University of Bristol reviewed Clinical Practice Research Data (CPRD) to estimate the prevalence of insulin use in the UK population.

"Understanding the pattern of insulin use is limited by a lack of data characterising the prevalence of insulin use in the UK," according to Craig Currie, Professor of Applied Pharmacoepidemiology at Cardiff University's School of Medicine, who led the study alongside colleagues from the University of Bristol.

"Given the limitations, our study sought to calculate – for the first time – the best possible estimate of the rates of insulin for type 1 and type 2 diabetes."

In this retrospective study the team examined the number of patients receiving prescriptions for insulin between 1991 and 2010.

The study found that the number of people using insulin trebled between 1991 and 2010, largely due to a large increase in the number of people with type 2 diabetes using the drug.

It estimates that the number of insulin users in the UK increased from 136,800 in 1991 to 421,300 in 2010.

The study also found that the number of people receiving prescriptions for insulin for type 2 diabetes during the period, overtook the number of people with type 1 diabetes.

In 1991, more people using insulin had type 1 diabetes than had type 2 diabetes however, by 2010 this situation had reversed with the total number of people with type 2 diabetes injecting insulin increased from 37,000 in 1991 to 277,400 in 2010.

Professor Currie adds: "As a result of the study, we found that the number of people injecting insulin in the UK increased three-fold over the 20-year period from 1991 to 2010.

"Also during this period there was more than a seven-fold increase in the number of those with a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes and treated with insulin. Most of this is unrelated to clinical need. Insulin is very expensive and some of us believe that it involves too many serious side effects in people with type 2 diabetes."

Whilst the study strikes a note of caution with its findings, most notably with early stages of the timescales of the reporting being less well recorded, the study does give a clear indication that the number of people with type 2 diabetes using insulin has risen sharply.

"The rising prevalence of insulin use probably reflects both an increase in incidence and longer survival of those who already have type 2 diabetes. The financial cost of insulin to the NHS in the UK is estimated to have increased from £156M in 2000 to £359M in 2009.

"The increase in the number of people with using is a wake-up call for all – not only in terms of lifestyle choices and how we treat people with type 2 ," Professor Currie adds.

Explore further: Cancer prevalence higher with long duration of diabetes

More information: Sarah E Holden, Edwin AM, Sara Jenkins-Jones, Craig J Currie, "How many people inject insulin? UK estimates from 1991 to 2010." Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, 2014. DOI: 10.1111/dom.12260

Related Stories

A link between type 2 diabetes and mitochondrial function

October 1, 2013

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that is characterized by resistance to or insufficient production of insulin, a hormone that controls sugar movement into cells. In certain tissues, insulin resistance has been associated ...

Loss of function of a single gene linked to diabetes in mice

January 4, 2014

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine have found that dysfunction in a single gene in mice causes fasting hyperglycemia, one of the major symptoms of type 2 diabetes. Their findings were ...

Gastric bypass improves insulin secretion in pigs

January 31, 2014

The majority of gastric bypass patients mysteriously recover from their type 2 diabetes within days, before any weight loss has taken place. A study at Lund University Diabetes Centre in Sweden has now shown that the insulin-producing ...

Recommended for you

Which diabetes drug is best?

July 19, 2016

(HealthDay)—No single drug to treat type 2 diabetes stands out from the pack when it comes to reducing the risks of heart disease, stroke or premature death, a new research review finds.

Gut bacteria imbalance increases diabetes risk

July 13, 2016

Currently, scientists think the major contributors to insulin resistance are excess weight and physical inactivity, yet ground-breaking new research by an EU funded European-Chinese team of investigators called MetaHit have ...

Team explores genetic architecture of type 2 diabetes

July 11, 2016

New research from a large international team of scientists offers a more complete picture of the genes responsible for type 2 diabetes, demonstrating that previously identified common alleles shared by many in the world are ...

Normal weight may not protect against diabetes

July 14, 2016

(HealthDay)—Type 2 diabetes has long been considered a disease of the overweight and obese, but a new study challenges that notion. It finds nearly one in five normal-weight people has prediabetes—a condition that can ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.