Dangerous High – Insulin Pricing is a Public Health Crisis

Insulins have gotten better over the years, and better insulins have been helpful for diabetic treatment. There is growing concern, however, about the very high cost of insulin, where prices have increased at seven times the rate of the consumer price index over the last 30 years. While the insulin market is not the largest, modern synthetic insulins are some of the highest-grossing medicines.

Insulin’s skyrocketing prices have been attracting scrutiny and forcing people to take drastic actions to get the lifesaving medicine. Insulin is becoming unaffordable to a large number of patients with diabetes. Meanwhile, drugmakers are blaming higher prices on healthcare intermediaries.

Approximately 7 million Americans need insulin to regulate their glucose levels and survive. A study presented in late June at the American Diabetes Association’s annual meeting showed that the current high cost of insulin results in nearly 25 percent of American diabetes patients are “self-rationing” insulin, often with life-threatening consequences.

–One mother, Jayne Rudolph, took to the Internet to express the hardship and pains of having to pay as much as $524 to purchase two vials of insulin for her child.

— St. Louis couple, Nancy and Dan Geiler both diagnosed with diabetes, have been struggling to stay alive following the skyrocketing price of insulin. Nancy said she considered selling her home that she’s lived in for 20 years to keep up, and even wrote Senator Claire McCaskill to support families struggling with the skyrocketing costs of insulin.

— Alec Smith* lived just 27 days after he aged out of his parents’ health insurance plan as he could no longer afford to buy the insulin he needed to live and treat his diabetes.

While some drugmakers have pledged to force down their prices and assist low-income earners, the American Medical Association has called on regulators to monitor the competition between the three drugmakers controlling the market.

One short-term hope is that other worldwide producers of Insulin could enter the US market. Generic, off-patent, human insulins can effectively manage diabetes. Bioton S.A. (Poland), Wockhardt Ltd. (India) and Julphar (UAE) could each further diversify their national insulin markets with acceptable off-patent products for export.

(*Correction – this original post erroneously referred to Mr. Alec Smith as Alex Smith. Our sincere condolences and apologies to the family of Mr. Smith for the error) 

Martin is the Founder of SelfRx Media and editor-in-chief of Insulin Nation. He's a passionate about sharing knowledge with those affected by Diabetes.

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