US insulin price hikes prove fatal for diabetics


Price increases to insulin in the United States have sparked public outcry, with some reports suggesting that diabetics are now rationing their injections to save money.

NPR recently reported on the tragic case of a 26-year-old diabetic man in Minnesota who died in his apartment in June 2017 after apparently rationing his insulin injections. The man, Alec Smith, had recently aged out of his parents’ health insurance policy, and was ineligible for state health insurance subsidies for his medication. Smith was earning less than $3000 a month, and was unable to cover the $1300 monthly cost of his insulin supplies.

Smith’s mother Nicole Smith-Holt is now campaigning to have the cost of the drugs slashed.

“The price of insulin has gone up over 1,200 percent in 20 years,” Smith-Holt told the Star Tribune earlier this year. “It’s not affordable. You’re price-gouging people who need this one product to live, to survive”.

The American Diabetes Association estimates that diabetics spend about $16,000 on health care annually, which is 2.3 times more than a person without diabetes would spend.

Victoria Gagliardo-Silver, a New York based writer and student, slammed Congress for inaction on the issue:

“It is absolutely shameful that in America, a developed country that is capable of spending over half of its federal spending budget on the military and only a measly six percent on health care allows people to die slow, painful, preventable deaths because medical care is too expensive”.  

States have attempted to introduce legislation that requires drug companies to justify price increases for prescription medicine, but the changes have been met with fierce opposition.




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