The subject of the rising cost of insulin has been a contentious topic of debates about policies in the eyes of the public; however, the human struggle of patients trying to cope has been given less exposure. Patient struggles include hospitalization and even the death of those who tried rationing their insulin supply to make it last longer.
Aside from rationing, some patients resulted to decreasing their carbohydrate intake just to reduce their insulin dose, while others cut cost by reusing insulin needles and blood glucose test strips, all the risk of inaccurate measurements and infection.
Despite this alarming news, the exact number of people who died or were harmed because of these rationing practices is not known most likely because patients and family members are embarrassed about reporting.
Because of these difficulties, grassroots advocacies were formed including the campaign hashtag #Insulin4all under the support of UK nonprofits T1 and Pendsey Trust. Most of the supporters within #Insulin4all are very critical of those involved in making policies especially politicians. They go as far as accusing the pharmaceutical industry of making diabetics an underclass.
The alleged reason for the skyrocketing prices of insulin has been attributed to the monopoly of three companies with a choke hold on setting the price for insulin.
The theory behind preventing deaths from rationing is that having a more open communication between the patients and the clinician is the key. Many times, this conversation is limited due to patient’s feelings of failure, of not being seen as independent, of embarrassment about not being able to afford their own medication.
One foreseen consequence of the rising prices is the desire to go back to using older generation human insulins called NPH and Regular. This is inconvenient for the patient since it requires a syringe and a needle, and unlike modern prefilled doses that comes in pens, could result in the patient not getting the right dose or figuring out the right dosing schedule.
Given the problem stated above, the solution may lie in making laws. Some experts are a fan of transparent pricing in which drug companies are required to reveal detailed information on how prices for insulin are determined. Associations like the American Medical Association have strongly urged the US Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice to strictly monitor insulin pricing and to enforce actions when possible.
It is important to note that the brands Novo Nordisk, Sanofi, and Eli Lilly promised means and ways to remain affordable to the patients, but relying on corporate promises may not be the best solution to this serious problem either.
Diabetes Patients Beg, Ration Insulin in Deepening CrisisDiabetes, Insulin Price, Ration