Monday’s research revealed that approximately 1.3 Million Americans with diabetes skipped insulin doses, took less insulin than necessary, or delayed buying the medicine because of its high price. This is a striking example of a healthcare system that allows profit-seeking pharmaceutical corporations to raise prices at will.
The authors of the new studyPublished in Annals of Internal MedicineWe analysed data from the 2021 National Health Interview Survey and examined a sample of 1.4 million Americans with type 1 diabetes and 5.8 millions with type 2.
The results showed that 16.5% adult insulin users in the U.S. used insulin in some form in the past year. It was more common for those with diabetes. type 1 diabetesType 2 is superior to type 2.
“Universal access to insulin, without cost barriers, is urgently needed,” Adam Gaffney. ICU doctor at the Cambridge Health Alliance and the lead author of the study, told NBC News. “We have allowed pharmaceutical companies to set the agenda, and that is coming at the cost to our patients.”
Gaffney, an outspoken advocate of Medicare for All, said he has personally “cared for patients who have life-threatening complications of diabetes because they couldn’t afford this life-saving drug.”
BREAKING NEWS: We found 1,300,000. Americans with diabetes ration insulin because of cost.
At 30%, those without insurance experienced the highest rates in rationing.
This isn’t some awful phenomenon. This is a policy error.https://t.co/SG5ntSDApe
— Public Citizen (@Public_Citizen) October 17, 2022
Insulin’s high price has been a scandal in the United States for years. The list costs of insulin are prohibitive. cheap-to-produceMedicines can be up to 10 times more expensive than in other countries.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has famously led caravans of people with diabetes into neighboring Canada to spotlight the shocking price of insulin in the U.S., which does little to regulate the pharmaceutical industry’s price-setting power.
One of the most recent report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) described insulin access in the U.S. as “a privilege that many cannot afford,” noting that “soaring medicine prices and inadequate health insurance coverage can result in unaffordable out-of-pocket costs that undermine the right to health, drive people into financial distress and debt, and disproportionately impact people who are socially and economically marginalized, reinforcing existing forms of structural discrimination.”
The new study, co-authored by David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler, echoed those findings, pointing out that people without health insurance “had the highest rate of rationing… followed by those with private insurance.” People on Medicaid and Medicare reported the lowest rate of insulin rationing.
“Several factors likely underlie our findings,” the authors note. “Insulin prices in the United States are far higher than in other nations. Moreover, pharmaceutical firms have increased insulin prices year upon year, even for products that remain unchanged.”
According to data from HRW, Eli Lilly raised the price of Humalog, a commonly used insulin product, by 680% in inflation since 1996 when it began selling the drug.
Gaffney, Himmelstein, and Woolhandler note that the recently enacted Inflation Reduction Act includes a provision limiting insulin copays to $35 per month for those on Medicare, a change that “may improve insulin access for seniors, who experienced substantial rationing in our study.”
They are disappointed that the Senate Republicans aren’t there stripped outPrivate insurance has a cap on insulin copays.
“Further reform,” the trio writes, “could improve access to insulin for all Americans.”
In July, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that the state would soon move to produce its own insulin in an effort to provide a lower-cost alternative to Big Pharma’s products.
At the national level, HRW has called on Congress to “consider legislation to provide insulin to all insulin-dependent individuals in the country free-of-cost.”
“People who need insulin shouldn’t have to break the bank just to survive,” said Matt McConnell, economic justice and rights researcher at HRW, “but in the U.S. they often do.”