Date Published: 7 February 2014

Insulin use to treat type 2 diabetes trebles over 20 years (UK)

Health News from Bristol, England (UK).
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A recent study by researchers at Bristol and Cardiff Universities (in England and Wales, respectively) has revealed that the number of people in the UK who use insulin to treat diabetes trebled between the years 1991 and 2010.

The study, which is published in the Journal of Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism - see the ref. below, involved an extensive review of Clinical Practice Research Data (CPRD) to estimate the prevalence of insulin use in the UK population. Researchers discovered that the number of patients receiving prescriptions for insulin increased from 136,800 in 1991 to 421,300 in 2010.

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 Edwin Gale, of Bristol University's School of Clinical Sciences said:

" The study showed a very steep rise in insulin use over the past 20 years, with some recent levelling off. Although earlier use of insulin may have contributed to this increase, it mainly reflects the fact that many more people are developing diabetes."

Professor Craig Currie, of Cardiff University's School of Medicine, said:

" Understanding the pattern of insulin use is limited by a lack of data characterising the prevalence of insulin use in the UK. 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."

The report on this study includes some caution about its findings, especially concerning the early stages of the timescales of the reporting being less well recorded, the study gives a clear indication that the number of people in the UK who have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and use insulin for this, rose sharply between 1991 and 2010.

Professor Currie added:

" 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 £156 million in 2000 to £359 million in 2009.
_ The increase in the number of people with type 2 diabetes using insulin is a wake-up call for all ? not only in terms of lifestyle choices and how we treat people with type 2 diabetes

Detailed report of this study
The results of the recent study have been published in the paper: 'How many people inject insulin? UK estimates from 1991 to 2012' by Sarah Holden, Edwin Gale, Sara Jenkins-Jones & Craig Currie in the Journal of Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism. First published online: 9 FEB 2014, DOI: 10.1111/dom.12260

Source: Bristol University, England (UK)

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