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An Epidemic: The Rising Price of Insulin

Avery Coleman

Posted on June 19, 2019 13:33

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The pharmaceutical industry has been in more than a little hot water lately about the soaring price of drugs. The rising price of insulin has become a particularly serious concern considering that 30.3 million American, or 9.4% of the population, have diabetes. Why is insulin so expensive in the United States?

The pharmaceutical industry has been in more than a little hot water lately about the soaring price of drugs. While the media has focused on a few specific drugs that have risen by several-fold almost overnight, these outrageous incidents are relatively few. The truth of the matter - rising prices - is still a very serious concern for the average American. Between 2015 and 2017, the average amount of money that an individual patient spent on drugs increased by 28.7%.

The rising price of insulin has become a particularly serious concern considering that 30.3 million American, or 9.4% of the population, have diabetes. While the societal concerns about why so many people in the United States have diabetes is a different question, the reality of the matter is that diabetes has become one of the most common health conditions in America today. When this is the case, and there are millions of people dependent upon insulin, major rises in the price of insulin become a truly national concern.

 

 

From 2002 to 2013, the price of insulin tripled, increasing from $4.34 per milliliter to $12.92 per milliliter. These exorbitant fees have led to a situation where an American with diabetes has to pay nearly $500 a month for insulin in order to live. This has created a dangerous situation where nearly 1 in 4 diabetics have begun to ration or skip insulin injections in order to save money. This has in many cases led to serious health consequences or even death. Others have been forced to leave the country in order to pay their insulin, most people going to either Mexico or Canada. In fact, a recent study found that Medicare patients would pay over 90% less for their insulin if they lived outside of the United States.

So, this raises the question, why is insulin so expensive in the United States? Most experts point to failing legislations that are preventing honest negotiations between pharmaceutical companies, the government, and healthcare providers regarding drug prices. In the current paradigm, the government and healthcare providers have little ability to drive the prices of drugs lower as the pharmaceutical companies are the only entities with access to the drugs they produce

The three pharmaceutical companies that produce insulin, Sanofi, Eli Lilly, and Novo Nordisk also engage in many morally questionable lawsuits in order to prevent cheaper alternatives to their products from being produced. When Merck and Mylan attempted to create cheaper biosimilar alternatives to Sanofi’s insulin product, Sanofi brought a successful lawsuit against the two in order to prevent any other products from being released and forcing the company to issue a competitive price for its product.

So far, politicians on both sides of the aisle have made the pharmaceutical companies a big part of their platforms. Trump has proposed several bills that would allow stronger negotiations with pharmaceutical companies, and the Democrat presidential candidates have all made serious reform with Big Pharma a prime issue for 2020.

Avery Coleman

Posted on June 19, 2019 13:33

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Source: Miami Herald

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