Surrounded by her toys and holding up her insulin pen, Siwar sits on the floor of her family's makeshift home in Arsal, north Lebanon. After her family fled the war in Syria and took refuge in Lebanon, Siwar was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and began her treatment at the MSF clinic in town. Photo credit: Carmen Yahchouchi/MSF
Issue brief |

Defeating the Double Standard in Diabetes Care

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Photo credit: Carmen Yahchouchi/MSF

Diabetes ranks among the top 10 causes of death globally and affects over half a billion people worldwide. Over 80% of those affected live in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Diabetes is primarily of two types: type 1, an autoimmune condition characterised by the inability of the pancreas to produce insulin, and type 2, characterised by resistance to insulin, which hinders the body from using insulin properly.

Insulin pens and newer diabetes medicines can simplify treatment and reduce complications for people with diabetes. While these tools are widely available in high-income countries, access in LMICs and humanitarian settings is extremely limited, due primarily to their higher prices. 

Drawing on a recent analysis of the cost to produce pens and the newer medicines, this report by T1International and MSF Access Campaign argues that this double standard in diabetes care can and should end. It highlights the benefits of insulin pens for people with diabetes, especially in fragile and humanitarian settings, draws attention to the lack of access to pens and newer diabetes medicines, and calls on pharmaceutical corporations to bring down prices.