Rising Prices of Insulin

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Rising Prices of Insulin

Photo Credit: InsulinNation.com

Photo Credit: InsulinNation.com

Photo Credit: InsulinNation.com

Photo Credit: InsulinNation.com

Jessica Townsend

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There are 1.25 million Americans with type 1 diabetes, a potentially deadly disorder in which the body can not produce insulin. Thankfully, most of these people can use an injectable insulin to keep them alive. Unfortunately, the price of this drug has tripled in the last decade. The consequences of not being able to afford insulin are drastic, and many have already lost their lives.

Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels from getting too high or too low. People with diabetes are unable to naturally produce insulin, and thus need to take it syringe form.

To put this in perspective, the cost of a vial of the short-acting insulin Lispro (Humalog) increased 585% (from $35 to $234) between 2001 and 2015.  Currently, patients may have to pay a maximum of $535 for this brand, according to GoodRx.com. The amount of vials of insulin that people purchase depends on how severe their diabetes is. For some, one shot will hold them off for months, but others need it every month.

In 2017, the average monthy rent was $1,012. For those without insurance, money spent on insulin could take up roughly half of their rent. According to Michelle Katz, LPN, MSN, a healthcare consumer advocate and author of  the books Healthcare for Less and 101 Health Insurance Tips, some patients are trying to ration their insulin and switch to cheaper brands, which can be very dangerous if done incorrectly. She said, “Under the Affordable Care Act, you can buy health insurance with a low monthly premium, but you may have to pay the first $5,000-$6,000 in costs out of your own pocket—including the cost of insulin”(ontrackdiabetes).

The risks of untreated diabetes include high blood sugar, vision loss, kidney failure, and nerve damage. In addition to insulin, patients have to buy test strips, syringes, and other supplies. They may take other medications as well. It’s important to note that insulin is not a new drug, nor is it in limited supply, yet the prices keep rising (webmd).

In 2016, Vermont Senator, Bernie Sanders, sent a letter to the US Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission asking for an investigation of pharmaceutical makers Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi. The letter mentioned that, “not only have these pharmaceutical companies raised insulin prices significantly—sometimes by double digits overnight—in many instances the prices have apparently increased in tandem,” suggesting corruption(ontrackdiabetes).

The American Diabetes Association has created a petition calling for Congress to address this problem. As insulin prices continue to rise, more and more people suffer. As of now, there has not been a solution, but citizens are continuously fighting for affordable medication.

 

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