The scientists who discovered the drug 100 years ago refused to benefit from its discovery and sold the patent for less than one euro, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus denounced in a report.
Unfortunately, this gesture of solidarity was overtaken by a multimillion-dollar business that created enormous access gaps, the authority pointed out.
In the document, which was released in advance for the celebration of the International Diabetes Day next Sunday, health authorities regretted that the change in the global insulin market imposes an unsustainable financial burden on lower-income countries.
In general, human insulin is as effective as synthetic analogs, but the latter are at least 1.5 times more expensive than the former, and in some nations three times more, the WHO said.
It pointed to three multinationals controlling more than 90 percent of the drug market, leaving little room for competition for sales from those smaller companies, it said.
He said that the drug is causing kidney damage, blindness and limb amputation.
WHO data show that diabetes is on the rise in low- and middle-income countries, when consumption is not keeping pace with the growing burden of the disease.