Even though insulin has been around for nearly a century, prices have continued to climb to astronomical heights over the past 15 years. People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin in order to regulate their blood sugar and avoid dangerous health complications, but soaring insulin prices have left many people at a loss about how to afford this life-sustaining drug. Some are protesting these prices by organizing and advocating for lower insulin prices and demanding drug manufacturers take responsibility for the harm they’re doing to patients.
Patients and lawmakers react to insulin prices
Consumers and activists with type 1 diabetes are putting pressure on three major drug companies: Sanofi (France), Novo Nordisk (Denmark), and Eli Lilly and Co. (U.S.). Led by the nonprofit group T1International, activists have gathered outside of Eli Lilly’s headquarters in Indianapolis multiple times demanding three things:
- Transparency about how much it costs to make a vial of insulin
- How much profit comes from each vial and
- A commitment from the company to lower the list price of insulin
Activists are also conducting online campaigns to raise awareness of the movement with the hashtag #Insulin4All.
When NPR reporters reached out to Eli Lilly for an interview, they released a statement saying, “We understand why people are making their voices heard.”
Lawmakers are reacting as well. In October, the attorney general of Minnesota sued insulin manufacturers for price gouging. The following month, a bipartisan caucus issued a report urging drug companies to lower insulin prices.
Soaring insulin prices
Insulin prices tripled between 2002 and 2013, and then doubled within the following five years. The list price for a single vial of insulin is now $300, and most people with type 1 diabetes use several vials in a single month. Health insurance and drug discounts help bring down the price some, but not all Americans have insurance, which leaves them paying high out-of-pocket costs for a drug they can’t live without.
Several people have made headlines in recent years when their crowdfunding campaigns to pay for insulin fell short and they died, most notably Patrick Boyle and Alec Raeshawn Smith.
Do you think insulin prices are too high? Join the conversation by using the hashtag #Insulin4All across social media and spreading the word about soaring insulin prices.