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Posted by on Jul 12, 2017 in Type 1 Diabetes | 11 comments

Insulin: The high price of not going high

Insulin: The high price of not going high

In June at the request of HealthCentral, I wrote two items discussing the high price of insulin.  One is an information item about four main factors which cause insulin prices to be higher than we would like.  In it, I cite Manufacturers, Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBM), Employer Health Plan Design and Users each as contributing to the increasing cost insulin.

In truth, it is all four of these factors plus more that is causing the price of insulin to escalate.  I hope my article “Four Factors Are Driving Up The Price Of Insulin in the U.S.” is informative and maybe a little upsetting.

The second item is an editorial which is a call to action for the diabetes community.  The title of the piece is “Second Opinion: Diabetes Patients who Use Insulin Need To Object To Rising Drug Costs” may be a bit more controversial and I also hope more thought provoking.  In it, I call on people who use insulin to spend at least as much time talking about the cost of insulin as we do technology.  I am not saying technology is bad by any means.  But unless we focus effort on the cost of insulin we cannot expect others to pay attention.

I hope you will take a moment to read both.  I am interested in your ideas on the subject and how I can better advocate in this shared interest.  Those of us with type 1 diabetes have a lot riding on how this issue is resolved.    I hope my thoughts contribute in a positive way to the discussion.



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  1. So did anyone respond to your anger from big med and big pharma?

    • No, Pharma or device representatives generally do respond to any blogs. However, I do not think I spoke negatively of any party. I simply told the truth as best as I found it. Ceraitnaily the editorial could only be seen as critical of myself.

  2. Did big pharma and big med ever respond to your anger?

  3. Would more use of cheaper older insulins like NPH and Actrapid be a useful tactic?

    • I think it would in some cases. However, in some cases, the PBM’s require pharmacies to only sell the medications that are on their formulary. We can purchase the older class of insulins at Walmart for $25.00 per vial and it does work at a reduced cost. Of course, those insulins do not work in pumps. We hope that things will get better sooner than later. At $250 per vial, I know our current system is out of balance.

  4. Interesting pieces, Rick. I’m outside the US and I get my insulin for free so reading about what happens elsewhere is eye-opening and I really feel for diabetics in the US. Just dreadful.

    • The US has a very insurance driven market for purchase of almost all healthcare. In many ways it is an odd satiation, without price controls of any kind, the market is free to charge whatever it will be bear. In the case of insulin the market is out of balance because of forces that drives it charge more in order show a bigger savings. It is terribly odd for certain.

  5. I use humalog insulin in my pump which is expensive as well.


    • It sure is Kenny. I also use Humalog and wow it is some expensive medication. In my area, a vial is right at $300.00. It is a high price to not get high.

  6. I am very glad that my insulin is affordable (aus). You raise a good point that we often discuss the exciting things in diabetes (hey CGM) but not the real issues that need to be brought up. Prohibitive costs to access life saving medication will change lives far more drastically than having the latest tech will.

    Good luck!

    • Ashleigh, I have not had great success getting others to endorse my idea. I hope others will understand that insulin is the one thing that works no matter the delivery system, from MDI to the MEdtronic 570G on my belt. Without insulin no T1 woudl be long for the world.

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