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Why Is Insulin So Expensive In The Usa

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Why Are Diabetes Medications So Expensive And What Can Be Done To Control Their Cost?

Abstract PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The purposes of this study were to describe how medication prices are established, to explain why antihyperglycemic medications have become so expensive, to show trends in expenditures for antihyperglycemic medications, and to highlight strategies to control expenditures in the USA. RECENT FINDINGS: In the U.S., pharmaceutical manufacturers set the prices for new products. Between 2002 and 2012, expenditures for antihyperglycemic medications increased from $10 billion to $22 billion. This increase was primarily driven by expenditures for insulin which increased sixfold. The increase in insulin expenditures may be attributed to several factors: the shift from inexpensive beef and pork insulins to more expensive genetically engineered human insulins and insulin analogs, dramatic price increases for the available insulins, physician prescribing practices, policies that limit payers' abilities to negotiate prices, and nontransparent negotiation of rebates and discounts. The costs of antihyperglycemic medications, especially insulin, have become a barrier to diabetes treatment. While clinical interventions to shift physician prescribing practices towards lowe Continue reading >>

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  1. Havis1938

    Friend of mine had family visit from USA and their daughter has diabetes so we were talking lot about it and I was really shocked when they told me they pay for insulin Humalog 100 units/mL 10ml vial almost 250USD without insurance.
    Well here in Slovakia I can have it for free - paid from public healthcare. I can also get all other diabetes supplies like pump, cartridges etc expect CGM for free.
    However the price that is public insurance paying instead of me for the same vial of Humalog is only 19€.
    You can even check it on this page: https://www.adc.sk/databazy/produkty/detail/humalog-100-u-ml-228842.html, where are all registered drugs here in Slovakia and on right side there is "Maximálna cena" which is maximum price for that vial.
    So I talked with few friends from other EU countries and in the most cases they have same final price +- 10€. And this is very big difference 250USD (228€) and 19€ for same vial.
    How can diabetics without insurance even afford to live in USA? I need at least 52-53 of these vials per year, so that would cost me 13000€ in USA and knowing your average wage, that would be 1/4 of your yearly average income just for insulin and not talking about other supplies.
    What is the reason behind this price difference?

  2. KerooSeta

    My opinion as an American and a U.S. history professor and not a medical or economics expert is that it's a result of a convergence of 1) Americans' general belief in free market capitalism, 2) a tradition of self-sufficiency that you can trace back to the Puritans, 3) long-standing rejection of socialism due to the 1920s Red Scare and the 1950s and onward Cold War, 4) relative economic prosperity following World War II, which meant that the people currently in charge of our country came of age at a time when things were very, very easy for most white people in our country, 5) a surge of power for the Republican Party that started in 1968 due to them making a pivot toward neoconservative politics, and 6) systemic discrimination and disenfranchisement of the poor along with a corporate media that keeps them uninformed and distracted.
    When you combine those things together, you get a country where the people in charge and a substantial number of voters lack empathy for anyone whose situation is worse than their own. If you have a good job like I do, your insulin might be as cheap as $10 a vial. These people have a hard time feeling sorry for someone who isn't so fortunate because our culture has taught them that they earned it all themselves. They don't understand how their tax dollars funded the schools and universities that helped them to get that job that gives them that insurance that makes that insulin so cheap or any of the other ways that the socialist side of our economy and government has been benefiting them their entire lives. To them, they are that rugged pioneer who carved out a bit of America through sheer hard work, and anyone who hasn't been able to do the same is just lazy.
    So, then companies can charge outrageous prices for drugs for the uninsured, because the insured will mostly not come to their defense. It's very frustrating...

  3. DeleteFromUsers

    Thanks for that description. Nice to hear something more in depth. It's as though America is currently riding its own coattails.

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