On World Diabetes Day last Thursday, the U.N. World Health Organization introduced a new program to finance the development of insulin. The main goal is to reduce drug prices when international organizations buy them in bulk.
Though many pharmaceutical firms promise to control the increasing prices of insulin, these products are still expensive for many people with severe diabetes. According to the recent report, at least 4 people died of insulin rationing.
Not just patients with tight budgets cannot afford insulin medications, those people from the middle class and with health insurance and jobs are also struggling with the surge in costs.
The report suggests that up to 25 percent of diabetic patients take less insulin than the prescription. The main reason is the high costs. Currently, there are approximately 30 million people with diabetes in the United States, with around 1.25 million adults and kids having type 1 diabetes.
Insulin was first discovered in the 20s of the previous century. At that time, it cost only $4 to manufacture each vial. The number goes up to $300 per vial now.
Three pharmaceutical manufacturers, including Sanofi, Novo Nordisk, and Eli Lilly, are controlling the insulin market and increase the prices almost simultaneously.
If those firms controlled the water market all over the world and increased the prices 300 percent over a decade, that would be a huge problem. For diabetic patients, insulin is like their water.
More importantly, the manufacturers are making use of the patent system to ensure the existing monopoly.
The trade organization which is on behalf of pharmaceutical firms, PhRMA, did not respond to a request for comment from the press. On its official site, PhRMA claims that the increase in the list prices for insulin is only a part of the story. In fact, the expense problems might come from the pharmacy benefit that insurers and managers do not share rebates with their customers.
Some people with diabetes would face a fatal “Catch-22” situation. This means their deductible can be too high to cover the costs of insulin. However, they are not qualified for reduced cost or free programs since they have insurance. As a result, these people might turn to possibly deadly rationing, online trading, or online fundraising.
In a recent survey, more than 90 percent of people in the US wanted Congress to focus on reducing the drug prices. People are angry and they want changes.