Insulin prices have been soaring in the United States for two decades now:
The cost of insulin nearly tripled from 2002 to 2013 and has doubled again since then. The list price is over $300 for a single vial of medicine, and most people with Type 1 diabetes need multiple vials every month to live. That cost is typically lower with insurance or with discount programs. Still, for some people the price is unmanageable.
This unbelievable price increase has caused some people who rely on insulin to manage their diabetes to have to ration the medicine, and others to move to states with better Medicaid plans. Some people have died as a result:
But after 18 years living with diabetes, Lautner now says the hardest thing about the diagnosis is accessing insulin — the expensive drug she needs to keep her alive. She has had to borrow money from her parents to pay for insurance; she has spent hours on the phone with drug companies; she has switched brands of insulin to save costs; and she even moved to a new state, Kentucky, with a more generous Medicaid plan.
Last year, Lautner noticed other people with Type 1 diabetes tweeting similar stories under the hashtag #Insulin4All. She read the stories of Shane Patrick Boyle and Alec Raeshawn Smith, two men who died because they could not afford their insulin. It was an epiphany.
“I thought, ‘My goodness, there’s more people than me. I’m not the only one out here,’ ” she said.
Since then, Lautner has joined a group of consumer activists, people who need insulin to live and are angry about the sky-high prices. They are putting pressure on the three main companies that make insulin: Sanofi of France, Novo Nordisk of Denmark and Eli Lilly and Co. in the U.S.
As noted, one of the three main companies that makes insulin is an American company, Eli Lilly. The CEO of that company, Alex Azar, took home millions as that company reaped profits while tripling, then doubling again, the price of insulin. Donald Trump named this CEO who profited from the increased price of insulin to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Newly disclosed financial records show that President Trump’s nominee to become Health and Human Services secretary reaped big earnings during his tenure as a top pharmaceutical executive.
As a top drug industry veteran from 2007 to 2017, former Eli Lilly and Co. executive Alex Azar built a substantial financial portfolio now worth $9.5 million to $20.6 million, and he was paid nearly $2 million in his final year at the company.
As would be expected by the fact that Donald Trump named the CEO of Eli Lilly to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services, a man who made millions while the price of the insulin he sold to diabetics skyrocketed, the Trump administration has done absolutely nothing to stem the problem. So, in the State of Minnesota, Democrats are looking to take action.
A group of state legislators said Tuesday that it is considering regulations — even price controls — to rein in the soaring cost of insulin, which has crimped the budgets of thousands of Minnesota families and caused some diabetics to ration the medication.
With more than 460,000 diabetics in Minnesota, legislators say they are hearing many complaints from frustrated and worried constituents. Rationing insulin can lead to illness, even death.
Sen. Matt Little, DFL-Lakeville, convened a roundtable discussion at the State Capitol, which included several senators, two incoming House members and several patients and parents of children with diabetes.
As was noted, the price of insulin in other countries is far below what it sells for in America ($300-$400 a vial):
Two years ago Greenseid learned just how much cheaper insulin is in other countries when her family traveled internationally. A box of insulin pens, for example, cost just $40 in Taiwan, $65 in Canada, $50 in Greece and $61 in Italy, she said. They saved so much money on insulin that it helped finance the trip.
Why is that? Because in many other countries, the government works for the people. In America, unfortunately, the government seems to work for corporations, with people relegated to an afterthought. Minnesota Democrats are trying to put people before corporations instead.