Price of insulin has many with diabetes concerned about survival
MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) —
There's no cure for type one diabetes and someone diagnosed needs insulin to survive, but the price has gone up dramatically in the last decade -- leaving many to fear how they will get their hands on it.
A shot of insulin seems so simple. It's something Joshua Hegeman does five times a day in order to stay alive.
"One package of insulin probably lasts me about two months, and that's about $500,” Hegeman said.
Nine percent of the U.S. population lives with diabetes and many of them like Hegeman don't have health insurance.
"The price of insulin, and there's only a few brands, has gone up a lot in the last 10 years, like a lot of other drugs and maybe 20 years ago it was $50 a vile and now if you had an off the shelf price it could be $200-$250 dollars a vile," Allen said.
Kristy Allen’s 11-year-old daughter was diagnosed with type one diabetes at the age of two. She says she's lucky she has insurance.
"At this point in her life she requires about three valves of insulin a month, and if we had to pay the off the shelf price, that would be over $700 a month just for a drug that she has to have to survive," Allen said.
Hegeman just started a construction job. His company requires 90 days before insurance kicks in.
"I think that some people have difficulty accessing it. I think a lot of times they just don't use as much as they need and therefore their blood sugars are high and that has a lot of bad ramifications and side effects," Allen said.
Last month Hegeman didn't have access to insulin for a week and wound up paying for it.
"I was thinking it was going to be a quick trip to the hospital, because I was dehydrated from it and just an IV. But it ended up turning into four days and probably about a $5,000 bill," he said.
“It's just something the pharmaceutical companies try to make money off of,” Hegeman said.
He doesn't think it's fair, and he's not alone.
"I think a lot of the alleged price-fixing cases are what we've got. And like I said with insulin in particular, there's several large cases that were just recently filed I think in January of this year that are addressing claims that the drug manufacturers are improperly setting and rising prices,” Allen said.
There are two companies that make insulin--Humalog and Novolog--they both offer assistance programs for people who don't have insurance. Below is their information.
Humolog: You can contact the Lilly Answers Center at 1-800-lillyrx (1-800-545-5979), Monday through Friday from 9 am to 8 pm et.
Novolog: 1-800-727-6500 -- For information about their diabetes patient assistance program: 1-866-310-7549