By: Hannah Bonanducci
Unfortunately in the United States, the overpricing of necessary medications isn’t a new story. We’re used to the expensive inhalers and Epi-pens, and for the 8.2 million Americans using insulin, the astronomical price is nothing new.
What is new, however, is the growing attention the prices are receiving. At the beginning of this year, Human Rights Watch wrote a long report on the situation in the United States, interviewing many patients with diabetes and suggesting a humanitarian crisis. According to CBS, Congressional reports have found that “Americans pay triple the cost for a dose of insulin compared with 11 other developed countries.” The crisis has only grown worse as many have lost their jobs and health insurance to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has led to many diabetics taking less insulin than needed or simply skipping insulin doses, often leading to diabetic ketoacidosis and even death.
Harvard and Liverpool conducted studies to determine how much it costs to make insulin and how much it should be sold for. According to their findings, it was agreed that insulin should cost a patient $78-$130 per year. The estimated cost of manufacturing a vial of insulin is $5, but they usually sell for about $300 per vial. While insurance can help cover the cost for some, others are often left to rely on cheaper alternatives that can hurt the body in the long run.
While we’re far from fixing the ongoing crisis in America, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 has brought some relief to those under Medicare. While the package overall aimed to achieve different aspects of President Biden’s “Build Back Better” campaign, one of the largest points was putting a $35 cap on insulin prices per month for Medicare patients. However, until further government action is taken against pharmaceutical companies in control of insulin prices, millions of Americans will have to depend on other means to get the life-saving medicine they need.
Sources: Beyond Type 1, CBS, Human Rights Watch, The Guardian, USA Today