Soaring Insulin Prices Prompt Insurance Shift
Since 2002, the cost of insulin has increased by almost 200 percent, according to a new study.Video provided by Newsy Newslook Corrections and clarifications:This story has been updated to reflect fact that Basaglar can’t be used in an insulin pump. Many parents of diabetic children and adults suffering with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are bracing for changes in insurance coverage of their insulin next year, as prices of the vital medication continue to soar. Higher insurance deductibles and changes in the prescription brands covered by some insurers are raising concerns among some people with diabetes. CVS Caremark, a pharmacy benefit manager (PBM), will no longer cover the insulin brand Lantus in favor of a new biosimilar version, Basaglar. Biosimilars are considered the generic versions of "biologic" drugs that are based on natural sources. The company also announced a program last week to further keep diabetes costs down, following a similar move in August by competitor Express Scripts. Diabetes is an epidemic in the United States, affecting nearly 10% of the population or about 29 million people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those, more than 8 million people are undiagnosed. Type 1 diabetes — often still called juvenile diabetes — can occur when people are children or adults. Type 2 diabetes is becoming more common with the increase in obesity and sedentary behavior. Prices for Humalog and many insulin brands have increased from about $300 to $500 between January 2013 to October 2016, according to drug discount search company GoodRx. Lantus increased about 60% — from $240 to $380 — in the same time period, GoodRx says. (Photo: T1D Exchange) "It’s definitely unfortunate prices are going up so much and impacting the people Continue reading >>
Research: Buying Insulin Out Of Pocket Without Insurance
Research: buying insulin out of pocket without insurance There is nothing that worries me more than thinking that my son may one day (when I am dead) be without insurance. @Sam also felt that we would not be #UNLIMITED if we did not feel able to work through lack of insurance. @Sam approached me, and we decided to work together to look into the best ways to buy analog insulin without insurance in the US. The bulk of the research was done by @Sam . My portion was largely that of fact-checker and number-cruncher. First we investigated US prices in different locations and for different insulins. We quickly found out that using GoodRx negotiated prices was always cheaper than the listed price we got on the phone or in person. So we switched to using GoodRx for pricing info. We also found out that one has to be very thorough and careful when investigating GoodRx pricing, because there are several dropdowns with search options for every med, and one has to check every combination of options to get to the best prices. GoodRx is an organization that negotiates prices of (prescription) medicines with retailers and issues any internet user with coupons that will provide discounts on medicine prices. To obtain GoodRx pricing, search for the medicine you need on the GoodRx web site, print the coupon and present it to the pharmacy chain for which it applies (or simply show that coupon to the pharacy on your phone) A note: GoodRX pricing online is not accurate. Though they will tell you it is a negotiated price and is accurate, it depends on pharmacy and region. I use it often and find the price with GoodRx discount, at Walgreens, is usually less than they show. And in my travels, I have found the prices vary by region in the app. That said, I will call you guys out for faulty resea Continue reading >>
The Cost Of Insulin
The price of insulin has more than tripled in ten years. Not everybody pays full price, but many find the cost of insulin complicates their life. This week, we’ll cover why insulin prices are so high. Next week, we’ll address what to do about it. According to this story on CBS News, people with diabetes are “cutting back [on their insulin doses] or even going without the drug,” putting them at greater risk for complications. Insulin costs have soared from $100–$200 per month a few years ago to $400–$500 a month now. CBS News quotes a college student saying her bill for insulin has risen from $130 to $495 per month. She has given up her insulin pump and gone back to injections because of expense. One of her friends has cut her dose down to 80% of what’s ordered to save money. This has become common practice for many. A doctor in Montana reported that insulin prices greatly complicate people’s care. “I have patients who tell me that they have to make a decision between food and insulin, and their rent and insulin.” Why is this happening? When insulin was discovered the 1920s, the doctors who found it gave it away. It immediately started saving lives for people with Type 1 diabetes. Now insulin has become a $24-billion-a-year market globally and is predicted to pass $48 billion in only five more years. And people around the world who need it can’t afford it. There are several causes for the price spikes, but many of them come down to America’s pretend “free market” approach to health care. We are seeing these problems now with the controversy over one brand of epinephrine injections, whose manufacturer increased their price by 500% and then paid their CEO a nearly $19 million salary. Here are some ways American economics are making insulin unaff Continue reading >>
What’s Behind Skyrocketing Insulin Prices?
Here’s a sticking point for diabetics: the cost of insulin more than tripled — from $231 to $736 a year per patient — between 2002 and 2013, according to a new analysis. The increase reflected rising prices for a milliliter of insulin, which climbed 197 percent from $4.34 per to $12.92 during the same period. Meanwhile, the amount of money spent by each patient on other diabetes medications fell 16 percent, to $502 from $600, according to a research letter published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. “Insulin is a life-saving medication,” said Dr. William Herman, a coauthor of the analysis and a professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. “There are people with type 1 diabetes who will die without insulin. And while there have been incremental benefits in insulin products, prices have been rising. So there are people who can’t afford them. It’s a real problem.” The analysis also found that the cost of various widely used oral diabetes drugs either dropped in price or did not rise nearly as significantly as insulin. Metformin, for instance, which is available as a generic, fell to 31 cents in 2013 from $1.24 per tablet in 2002. And the newer class of diabetes drugs known as DPP-4 inhibitors rose 34 percent since becoming available in 2006. The researchers analyzed data from nearly 28,000 diabetes found in the Medical Expenditure Panel, a database on health care costs maintained by the US Department of Health and Human Services. About 1 in 4 people used insulin and two-thirds took a pill. Toward the end of the study period, a small percentage began taking new injectable medicines that are designed to complement pills. There have been previous efforts to track insulin prices in recent years, bu Continue reading >>
Insulin Is Too Expensive For Many Of My Patients. It Doesn't Have To Be.
At age 15, I developed an unquenchable thirst and frequent urination, and lost 20 pounds. I had developed Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease that destroyed my body's ability to produce insulin. Without insulin, I would have eventually developed a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis, which is lethal without (and even sometimes with) treatment. Years later, I'm a practicing endocrinologist. I could never have imagined back when I first started taking insulin that one day I would have so many patients who could not afford the medication because of skyrocketing prices. When the drug was discovered in 1921, the original patent was sold to the University of Toronto for $1 so that no one else could patent it and "secure a profitable monopoly." Numerous improvements later, insulin is produced by a three-company oligopoly. When the first of the newer insulin "analogs," Humalog, hit the market in 1996, it sold for $21 a vial. Today, vials of analog insulins, including Humalog, sell for about $300. Patients with Type 1 diabetes typically require two or three vials of insulin per month, but patients who are more resistant to insulin, such as those with Type 2 diabetes, may require six or more. A recent paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that insulin nearly tripled in cost from 2002 to 2013. A lawsuit filed in January accuses insulin companies of price collusion for allegedly raising prices repeatedly and in lockstep to match their competitors. Prices have gotten so bad that the American Diabetes Association recently launched an online petition at MakeInsulinAffordable.org, which has been signed by more than 248,000 people. Because insulin is so expensive, some people take less than their prescribed dose, causing higher blood sugars, which may lead Continue reading >>
Insulin Prices Keep Rising – Pay For Insulin Or Groceries?
Twenty-nine million Americans have diabetes. Many take insulin. Most need it to survive. Few can afford it. Some are faced with difficult financial decisions each month. Pay for insulin or rent? Pay for insulin or utility bills? Pay for insulin or groceries? Many choose to go without insulin or take lower doses to save on cost. Some Americans with Type 1 Diabetes, an autoimmune condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, have been hoarding insulin to safeguard against the prescription drug’s rising prices. Laura Marston of Washington D.C. is one such American. Without insurance, she was paying $140 for a vial of Humalog, a fast-acting insulin typically injected prior to meals (she needs three vials each month). She was able to get insurance with an expensive monthly premium but the insulin will still cost her about $200 out-of-pocket each month. Jump to Solutions for Saving on Insulin Abby Cope, a nurse out of Rochester, New York, pays $460 each month for her insulin. This is an out-of-pocket cost for her. She said she has considered rationing her insulin for the simple reason that she can’t afford it. As a nurse, Cope realizes the consequences of not following the prescribed regimen, but can’t imagine how it feels for those who don’t know and choose to go without due to the expense. In York, Pennsylvania, Robin Kann said she went to pick up her insulin at the usual pharmacy and found that it had increased from $106 to $593. She was shocked and questioned the pharmacy staff member about the price. The staff member replied, “Yes, all diabetes medicine jumped on September 30.” After the price hike, Kann will need to pay over $1,000 per month for two diabetes prescriptions. That is in addition to the $700 insurance premium she and her husband Continue reading >>
Rising Insulin Prices Have Diabetics Crying Foul
Insulin prices are only getting more painful. Drugmakers Eli Lilly (LLY) and Novo Nordisk recently boosted their insulin list prices by almost 8 percent each, adding to concerns that treating diabetes is unaffordable for some patients. The average price of insulin almost tripled between 2002 and 2013, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). Even before the most recent price hike, some diabetics were cutting back or even going without the drug because of its expense. The price hikes come at a sensitive time for the drugmakers as Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and rival Sanofi-Aventis are facing a class-action lawsuit alleging they conspired to raise their prices in lockstep. Almost one in 10 Americans has diabetes, a group of conditions where the body fails to properly regulate blood sugar. People with Type 1 diabetes, often referred to as juvenile diabetes, need to take insulin daily to stay alive. "We were really disappointed in this announcement," said Dr. William Cefalu, the chief scientific, medical and mission officer for the ADA, who noted that his organization has partnerships for research with the drugmakers. "This is really going in the wrong direction." In early May, Eli Lilly raised its list price for Humalog by 7.8 percent, to $274.70, for a 10-milliliter bottle, while Novo Nordisk tacked on a 7.9 percent increase on its Novolog drug, to $275.58. "There's concern and anger in the diabetes community," said Allison Bailey, who has Type 1 diabetes and is a student at Iowa State University. She also volunteers with a diabetes advocacy group called T1International. She called the most recent price hike "a slap in the face." Such price hikes may be absorbed by diabetics' insurance plans, but other people may struggle if they lack insurance or have high-dedu Continue reading >>
Why Treating Diabetes Keeps Getting More Expensive
Laura Marston is one of the 1.25 million Americans who suffer from Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disorder in which a person's pancreas can't make insulin. She hoards vials of the life-saving medicine in her refrigerator to protect herself from the drug's rising prices. (Jorge Ribas/The Washington Post) At first, the researchers who discovered insulin agonized about whether to patent the drug at all. It was 1921, and the team of biochemists and physicians based in Toronto was troubled by the idea of profiting from a medicine that had such widespread human value, one that could transform diabetes from a death sentence into a manageable disease. Ultimately, they decided to file for a patent — and promptly sold it to the University of Toronto for $3, or $1 for each person listed. It was the best way, they believed, to ensure that no company would have a monopoly and patients would have affordable access to a safe, effective drug. “Above all, these were discoverers who were trying to do a great humanitarian thing,” said historian Michael Bliss, “and they hoped their discovery was a kind of gift to humanity.” But the drug also has become a gift to the pharmaceutical industry. A version of insulin that carried a list price of $17 a vial in 1997 is priced at $138 today. Another that launched two decades ago with a sticker price of $21 a vial has been increased to $255. [This 90-year-old fight over insulin royalties reveals just how much has changed in medicine] Seventy-five years after the original insulin patent expired — a point at which drug prices usually decline — three companies have made incremental improvements to insulin that generate new patents and profits, creating a family of modern insulins worth billions of dollars. The history of insulin captures Continue reading >>
How To Get Insulin At A Cheaper Price
Insulin can be expensive. If you’re one of the 6 million Americans with diabetes relying on this main-stay treatment, you could be paying out-of-pocket costs anywhere from $120 to $400 per month, according to a 2015 New England Journal of Medicine commentary. Drugs such as Lantus (insulin glargine) and Levemir (insulin detemir) have seen significant cost increases, according to a recent trend report by pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts. One reason for the high prices is the lack of generic options for insulin. So for now, you’re stuck having to search around to find affordable options. Where do you shop for more affordable insulin? For some people though, high drug costs can mean making difficult financial choices. Our national polls show people might cut back on groceries and paying bills to pay for their medications. To minimize your costs, consider these options: Prescription Assistance Programs If you don’t have health insurance or are without drug coverage, look into applying for a patient assistance program (PAP). Through the nonprofit NeedyMeds, you can find some programs that offer free or low-cost insulin as long as you meet the eligibility requirements. Those are usually based on your insurance status, income, and diagnosis. You might also qualify for a diagnosis-specific program that can help you save on syringes, pumps, and other diabetes supplies. Pharmacists are also a great resource and can help you find a PAP that meets your financial needs. Switch Drugs Another way to save is by asking your doctor whether there’s a lower-priced insulin that’s right for you. While “long-acting” is a more popular type of insulin, it's also more expensive, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it works better. “It’s mostly a marketing ploy,” says M Continue reading >>
The Cost Of Having A Child With Diabetes
We all know the ultimate cost that living with Diabetes places on the PWD and their families. The mental burden of living with diabetes and caring for someone that lives with Diabetes can become overwhelming as it is. While previously we discussed about the increasing prices of insulin and its rise to an all-time highs, it is only a small piece of the puzzle, a small glimpse of the bigger picture of what it truly costs for someone with diabetes to stay ALIVE each and every month. We are not talking about just managing, or being healthy, but staying ALIVE. Let that word sink in for a moment with you. Yes, there are medications one takes to feel better, ibuprofen for a headache, or Tylenol for aches and pains, however, insulin and other diabetes related supplies are the few things that stand between someone with diabetes and death. Am I being over dramatic? Not really when you think about it, insulin is not a cure; it is not a medication you can miss for a day and still be okay the next day. While you may not necessarily DIE from one missed day of a dose of insulin, I can tell you that you will not feel good at all and may actually end up in the hospital. As you may be aware, I have two children who have type 1 diabetes, so I know a little bit about the costs of living with it, even though I do not live with the disease myself. I wanted to put together something that showed those with and especially those without diabetes how much it truly costs for people with this chronic illness to LIVE. The Burden of Diabetes The one thing that has always bugged me about this disease other than the most common reasons is the financial cost it takes to keep someone with Diabetes alive! Thankfully, we have insurance that covers for the majority of the cost, but I know there are people o Continue reading >>
The Prices For Life-saving Diabetes Medications Have Increased Again
A Type 1 diabetes patient holds up bottles of insulin. Reuters/Lucy Nicholson Insulin prices have been rising — increases that mean some people are spending as much on monthly diabetes-related expenses as their mortgage payment. It's led some people living with diabetes to turn to the black market, crowdfunding pages, and Facebook pages to get access to the life-saving drug. At the same time, the companies that make insulin have faced pressure from politicians including Senator Bernie Sanders, class-action lawsuits that accuse the companies of price-fixing, and proposed legislation in Nevada. Even in the face of this criticism, two of those drugmakers — Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk — raised the list price of their insulins again in 2017. Diabetes is a group of conditions in which the body can't properly regulate blood sugar that affects roughly 30 million people in the US. For many people living with diabetes — including the 1.25 million people in the US who have type-1 diabetes — injecting insulin is part of the daily routine. Insulin, a hormone that healthy bodies produce, has been used to treat diabetes for almost a century, though it's gone through some modifications. As of May 2, the list price of Humalog, a short-acting insulin, is $274.70 for a 10 ml bottle, an increase of 7.8% from what the list price had been since July 2016. On May 2, Lilly also took a 7.8% list price increase to Humulin, an older form of insulin. Novo Nordisk, which also makes a short-acting insulin, increased its prices to the drug in 2017. In February, the drugmaker raised its price to $275.58 for a 10 ml bottle, up 7.9% from what the list price had been since July 2016. In December, Novo Nordisk committed to limiting all future drug list price increases from the company to single d Continue reading >>
How Much Do Diabetes Supplies/medications Cost In The U.s.?
While everyone’s diabetes treatment plan, medications, and technology may be different, there is one thing we can all agree on: diabetes is expensive. In two previous posts at The Perfect D, I gave some sense of what the bare minimum of care for a U.S. adult with Type 1 diabetes would be and also financial resources and programs to help with the financial burden of living with diabetes. However, this post is about how much it could cost an adult with Type 1 diabetes if they used the technology and medications that are currently out on the market (and thought of as “the latest and greatest”) and paid out of pocket with no insurance. Research on this topic has shown me that: 1) prices can fluctuate wildly, so it pays to shop around and 2) there is a very big gap (financially, medically, and technologically) between the bare minimum and “surviving” and actually utilizing the tools and latest technology that is out there. So, the hypothetical person for this exercise is a Type 1 adult in the United States who weighs 60kg, just like the other calculation post I did. Ground Rules These prices are accurate on the websites I have referenced for December 1, 2014. They may change, they may add shipping, they may not offer the services, technology, or drugs on their website after this is posted. These prices are not a guarantee. They are to be used as a reference. The listing of prices/websites on this post does not mean that I endorse the company or product or service. I have not listed all the products available on the market for people with Type 1 diabetes. I have listed major ones to give you an idea of major manufacturers’ costs for the products that are available for general public viewing. I did not call any companies and ask for pricing. Why? Because I believe Continue reading >>
Why Is Insulin So Expensive In The U.s.?
Dr. Jeremy Greene sees a lot of patients with diabetes that's out of control. In fact, he says, sometimes their blood sugar is "so high that you can't even record the number on their glucometer." Greene, a professor of medicine and history of medicine at Johns Hopkins University, started asking patients at his clinic in Baltimore why they had so much trouble keeping their blood sugar stable. He was shocked by their answer: the high cost of insulin. Greene decided to call some local pharmacies, to ask about low-cost options. He was told no such options existed. "Only then did I realize there is no such thing as generic insulin in the United States in the year 2015," he says. Greene wondered why that was the case. Why was a medicine more than 90 years old so expensive? He started looking into the history of insulin, and has published a paper about his findings in this week's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. The story of insulin, it turns out, starts back in the late 1800s. That's when scientists discovered a link between diabetes and damaged cells in the pancreas — cells that produce insulin. In the early 1920s, researchers in Toronto extracted insulin from cattle pancreases and gave it to people who had diabetes, as part of a clinical trial. The first patient was a 14-year-old boy, who made a dramatic recovery. Most others recovered as well. Soon, insulin from pigs and cattle was being produced and sold on a massive scale around the world. But for some, the early forms of the medicine weren't ideal. Many people required multiple injections every day, and some developed minor allergic reactions. Over the next few decades, scientists figured out how to produce higher-quality insulin, Greene says. They made the drug purer, so recipients had fewer bad reaction Continue reading >>
How To Find A Lantus Coupon
It looks like this page may be out of date. Please visit NerdWallet’s health hub for our latest content. Diabetics don’t have much of a choice when it comes to taking their insulin, and the costs can be very high, so a Lantus coupon can be invaluable. Paired with diabetic supplies like syringes and blood glucose testing equipment, diabetes is an expensive disease. But with a little bit of information and some resourcefulness, you may be able to save on your monthly prescriptions. Lantus is a long-acting insulin made by Sanofi-Aventis and prescribed to both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics. Diabetics are unable to naturally produce or use insulin like most people, so they take injections of synthetic insulin to help regulate their blood sugar. Generic Lantus At this time, there is no generic form of Lantus available. However, that may soon change. The patents protecting Lantus from cheaper generic alternatives expired in February 2015, so less expensive forms of the drug may be coming. When this happens, opting for generic will likely be the best way to save on Lantus, and because of FDA requirements, you don’t have to worry about the generic version being less effective or less safe. Although some people avoid buying generics because they are afraid they won’t work as well as the name brands, those fears are largely unfounded. Lantus coupons from the manufacturer One carton of Lantus can cost close to $400 without insurance, according to GoodRx.com, though Lantus may very well be part of your insurance formulary. Currently, the maker of the drug offers a Lantus Savings Card. According to its website, the card can reduce your prescription cost to no more than $25. However, it also says there is a maximum benefit of $100 off each prescription for the duration of the pr Continue reading >>
Type 1diabetes + No Insurance? How Little Can You Pay To Live?
You are an adult with T1 diabetes living in the United States. You have no health insurance – or worse, health insurance with such a high deductible that everything you need is out of your own pocket. This is today’s reality for so many people. Want to know how much having diabetes and paying out of pocket will cost? How little you can pay? Read on… Ground Rules This is the bare minimum standard of care, which means I’m not trying to NOT use test strips or avoid tests or health care visits. When I say “bare minimum”, it means that there are no insulin pumps, no continuous glucose monitors, no conveniences, no latest on the market medications, and forget the latest insulin analogues. The insulin you’ll be using is the same formulation that I started with in 1983 – Regular and NPH (except you get recombinant DNA and I got a mix of beef and pork). You should take this as a “If I am to follow what the ADA says I need to do at the very least, this is how much it would cost me for my diabetes.” This does NOT take into consideration if you have to see additional health care professionals or have additional tests if it’s been determined that you have complications. I am using the American Diabetes Association’s Standards of Care 2014 as the guiding document. Most of the items listed can be purchased at Wal-Mart. Why Wal-Mart? Because ReliOn items, sold at Wal-Mart, are the cheapest on the market. I can’t vouch for their accuracy, efficacy, or their overall comfort and convenience. With the exception of the ReliOn glucose tabs that I purchased in an emergency once, I’ve never used these items. But here goes… Insulin The least expensive insulin that you can purchase in the United States is at Wal-Mart. Remember that these particular insulins are not Continue reading >>