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Insulin Access – should be for ALL!

*Disclaimer: All content and information in this blog is for informational and educational purposes only. This article was written by Pete Lomas (T1D).

Last updated on 21/11/23.


As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, starting this ‘patch’ business seemed somewhat soulless if we weren’t going to give back to the community. When I was thinking through the possibilities of where Not Just a Patch should contribute, it became plainly obvious that ‘Insulin Access for All’ was the right choice.


I was diagnosed 13 years ago. I was 30 years old, living in London and having a great old time. Over a few weeks I started peeing excessively, getting thirsty as hell and then my eyesight went blurry. I went to a GP and she said that my ketones were through the roof and that I had diabetes and needed to go to the hospital immediately. Weirdly, I felt ‘fine’…but she insisted I go to the hospital. I did. They did some more tests and informed me that I had diabetes, gave me some insulin and a few dietary tips and said “good-luck”.

I just got on with it, I never really paused to think or process what had happened, and I never really engaged with the ‘diabetes community’ until recently. On reflection, I am grateful that this happened in a health system (The NHS) that is designed to support diabetics, I can only imagine the challenges I’d have faced had I been living in a country where the health system was not so supportive.

Insulin was first given successfully to a human at the University of Toronto on January 11, 1922. An injection of bovine insulin was administered to 14-year-old Leonard Thompson by endocrinologist Frederick Banting, who had been researching ways of extracting insulin from the pancreas. The boy suffered an allergic reaction to the first injection, but further work improved the extract. A second injection administered a few weeks later was successful. It’s somewhat awe inspiring to consider the number of people who’ve been impacted by this discovery. It’s equally frustrating that almost 100 years later, systems still exist that don’t find a way to ensure socially responsible and fair access to those in need.

The Australian health system (Medicare) also heavily subsidises the costs of being a Type 1 Diabetic (T1D). By investing in population health, Australia is investing in its primary resource – us! They’re also reducing the long-term burden of healthcare spending. If we don’t design a system that ensures equitable access to insulin, T1Ds will inevitably develop morbidities and complications, increasing the burden on the health system.

Access to insulin is a human right 

Access to insulin is not just a medical necessity; it’s a fundamental aspect of healthcare that should be recognized and treated as a human right. In a world where millions depend on this life-saving medication, ensuring everyone has access to insulin is paramount. The belief that access to insulin is a human right underscores the importance of making this critical medication available and affordable to all who need it, regardless of their socioeconomic status. By advocating for policies that support universal access to insulin, we’re not just improving healthcare standards—we’re affirming the dignity and value of every individual’s life. It’s a commitment to a healthier, more equitable future where access to essential medications is a given, not a privilege.

The tragic reality of how many people die because of not having access to insulin is a glaring testament to the global healthcare crisis. The lack of access to affordable insulin is not just a healthcare failure; it’s a pressing humanitarian issue that demands immediate action. Each year, thousands of lives are lost unnecessarily due to this deficit, highlighting the critical need for systemic changes in how insulin is distributed and priced. This grim statistic serves as a call to action for policymakers, healthcare providers, and communities worldwide to address the barriers to insulin access and ensure that this essential medication is within reach for everyone who needs it, thereby saving countless lives.

The time has long passed that pharmaceutical companies have recovered their costs, and then some. In saying that, insulin is a biologic agent rather than a chemically synthesised molecule, it can’t be made as a generic and to make biosimilars does cost a lot more than making a generic. This is where we could traverse the rabbit hole that is socialism vs capitalism. In a very basic sense, part of the reason the US has such an issue with fair access to insulin is the cultural and political inclination to avoid interrupting a company’s ‘rights’ to rake in as much cash as possible at the expense of all else.

Governments can step in and enforce limits and that’s what the Australian government does.

The United States sits further down the capitalistic spectrum and hence has a health system that gives profit too much credence, thus, the system suffers from not investing in medicines like better access to insulin and this means that the cost per head on health expenditure is double that of Australia, UK, Japan and Canada.

Now, let’s be clear I am not anti-pharma at all. It would be great to see as much data published for the good they do as is published for the bad. I’m an advocate for pharmaceutical companies because they save millions of lives a year with amazing medicines and let’s be honest, who hasn’t popped a pill of some sort in the last few months? Bashing pharma companies isn’t the answer. They just play within the rules (mostly 😉).

It’s the rules that need examining and the frameworks within which pharma operate and the pressure that governments need to apply to ensure that social good is elevated – that’s where progress lies.

Insulin Access for All

In summary, it’s just not fair that any T1D who isn’t fortunate enough to have the right insurance or to be able to afford insulin, should be sparing or rationing their doses. These people need help and support, and therefore 10% of Not Just a Patch profits go to support ‘Insulin Access for All’.

So, when you are purchasing your next Not Just a Patch for your Freestyle Libre or your Dexcom or your MiaoMiao…. know that you’re also giving some small support for those less fortunate.

Happy Patching!!




About Pete Lomas, T1D 

Pete is the CEO and Founder of a diabetes technology start-up called Balance Health and the CEO of Not Just a Patch. As a person with T1D himself, he sees the opportunity in improving patient experiences via technology, product and brands. He is driven to make a difference in the lives of people with diabetes via design driven products and solutions.