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insulin, emergency access, bill, legislation, Emergency prescription refill legislation

New Bill Would Allow Emergency Access to Insulin in Massachusetts

A new bill introduced in Massachusetts would allow pharmacists to give a 72-hour insulin supply in emergency situations. 

An emergency situation in this case is one in which the patient cannot quickly get a doctor’s authorization for insulin. Insulin is a vital hormone upon which people with type 1 diabetes rely to maintain healthy blood glucose levels. 

Massachusetts State Senator Dean Tran, who filed the bill, said, “Access to insulin is a human right, and it is a matter of life and death.” 

Emergency prescription refill legislation

Since 2014, 20 states have passed laws to increase emergency access to insulin. These laws are also sometimes called Kevin’s Law after Ohio resident Kevin Houdeshell, who died because of lack of access to emergency insulin. 

States that have passed Kevin’s Law include:

  • Ohio
  • Florida
  • Arkansas
  • Arizona
  • Illinois
  • Wisconsin
  • Idaho
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Colorado
  • Kentucky
  • Oklahoma
  • West Virginia
  • Indiana

These laws curb deaths that could have been prevented when insulin isn’t easy to access, such as on holidays or if the prescription has expired. Some states’ emergency access bills also extend to other drugs, such as inhalers, Epipens, blood pressure medications, blood thinners, mental health medications, and HIV medications. 

Under these laws, insurance will most likely not cover the cost of insulin, however states are working toward getting an insurance mandate into their legislation.  

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Capping insulin costs

With skyrocketing insulin prices, legislation like this will make a huge difference by making insulin available and saving lives. 

One in ten Massachusetts residents lives with diabetes. In 2013, the average cost a Massachusetts resident with diabetes paid for insulin products was $8.91 per day or $3,122 per year. Just three years later, in 2016, they paid $13.42 per day, or $4,684 annually. 

Along with other states, Massachusetts also recently passed a pharmaceutical pricing bill to cap insulin copays at $25 per month, as well as exclude insulin from deductibles. 

Colorado has already capped insulin costs at $100 a month, and Illinois currently has a bill in process to cap costs as well.