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Amid rising anger over the cost of insulin, a new analysis underscores the extent to which the diabetes medicine is hurting American pocketbooks: Between 2012 and 2016, spending on insulin by each person with diabetes doubled, yet usage during that time remain essentially flat.

Specifically, individuals with Type 1 diabetes spent $5,705 on insulin in 2016, up from $2,864 in 2012, while the average daily insulin use rose just 3 percent, according to the Health Care Cost Institute, which analyzed about 15,000 claims from three large insurers — UnitedHealth (UNH), Cigna (CI), and Humana (HUM) — for each person who had at least one prescription for insulin.


Meanwhile, the price of all insulin products increased during that four-year period. The average point-of-sale price — or out-of-pocket costs, such as deductibles, co-insurance, and what insurers pay — nearly doubled, rising from $0.13 per unit to $0.25 per unit of insulin, which translates to an increase from $7.80 a day in 2012 to $15 a day in 2016 for someone using an average amount of insulin, or 60 units per day.

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  • I am the owner of a pharmacist in Canada, Marks Marine Pharmacy. Back in 2014 when insulin prices tripled, we started to hear stories about insulin rationing, a very dangerous practice, from our American neighbors. That is why we decided to do all the research necessary to be able to ship to the States – ice packs, insulation, etc. There is nothing more rewarding than being able to help others, and make such a difference in people life as a result. However, something has to change in the American system and the more this comes to light and is in the news, the closer it gets for change!

  • I was diagnosed as type 2 last year, my weight was 125kg, my doctor wanted me to start insulin and encouraged a diet with an alarming amount of carbs, so I went to boots and bought a blood sugar tester that I used every day, and started on a Atkins type diet. I.e no carbs….. and when I say no carbs I really mean none. So lots of meats and fish, eggs etc. I also got some useful information here I gradually started loosing weight at a rate of 3kg per month and Im now 94kg, I have never taken insulin and in a few months I will be my target weight. my lifestyle can never go back to carbs, but I can have some nowerdays without my blood sugar increasing, so if I want a curry I can have a Nan bread with it but no rice chips etc. And to be honest when you cut out carbs you can eat a lot of really tasty things that help lose weight a fry up without the beans is fine, lamb chops and kebabs without the bread etc. The only downside is because of the extra fat intake I need to be doing daily cardio. I really believe doctors are offered too many incentives by drug companies and tend to love writing prescriptions instead of encouraging a positive change in our lifestyles.

  • I am a pharmacist and am so angry at drug manufacturers as they continually take advantage of the American people and their insurance companies. On top of that, insurance companies and PBMs turn around and don’t pay the pharmacy enough to make a living. A great example is my pharmacy cost for an insulin pen is $400 from my distributor. I get reimbursed $406! My profit is $6 on something that costs $400! That’s not enough to pay my staff or pharmacist. Plus I then have to wait 30 to 60 days to get the $406 from the PBM but still have to pay my distributor the $400 cost of the medication within the month. I kid you not. This is why so many independent pharmacies are closing. Greedy drug manufacturers are backed by even greedier PBMs for the greedy insurance companies. The ones who lose are the pharmacies and the patients. Insert curse word HERE!

  • I am a 78-year-old physician with type I diabetes, using approximately 45 units of insulin daily. Because of “good” insurance, I have been largely insulated from price increases and until recently unaware of the obscene increases in retail price escalation. There is no question that Big Pharma has exploited the peculiarities of third-party economics and the medical marketplace to generate enormous profits. I do not know the cost of manufacture and distribution of insulin, but I have no doubt that the list price is as much as or possibly greater than an order of magnitude higher, representing an unconscionable exploitation of a market faced with the choice of pay or die. There are already multiple reports of deaths directly attributable to inability to meet the cost of this life-saving drug, and this number is going to grow rapidly if the rate of price increase continues at its present level.

    I believe that this is a situation where the health and well-being of the populace demands immediate action mandating provision of insulin at a price affordable across the economic spectrum. This is a completely remediable public health emergency for which the perpetrators should be held liable and at risk for severe civil and criminal penalties.

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