On October 26 President Trump declared opioid deaths a ‘National Public Health Emergency’ because improper use of opioids had caused 64,000 deaths last year. But given the generally accepted mortality rate of one in twenty from diabetic hypoglycemia among type 1 patients (one survey (1) found that between 4% and 10% of all patient deaths in this group were from hypoglycemia), there are about 48,000 deaths from insulin use in the United States a year (2). This is even more serious a problem than with recreational drug use, since the ‘addiction’ to insulin cannot be avoided among diabetics, and their doctors, instead of helping them to avoid hypoglycemic death, typically concentrate just on reducing hyperglycemia, which naturally increases the hypoglycemia mortality risk.
So why isn’t this considered a ‘National Public Health Emergency’ justifying intensified efforts to cure type 1 diabetes, which has many more problems than just hypoglycemia?
- P. E. Cryer, “Severe Hypoglycemia Predicts Mortality in Diabetes,” Diabetes Care, 35 (9) 1814-1816 (2012).
- I calculated this based on an estimated prevalence of type 1 diabetes in the United States at about 3 per 1000 (A. Menke, et al., “The Prevalence of Type 1 Diabetes in the United States,” Epidemiology, 24 (5) 773-774 (2013) and the current estimate of the U. S population as 323,000,000.