SAN ANTONIO â€”Â
The rising cost of a life-saving drug is putting patients’ lives at risk. And thousands of diabetics are cutting back on the amount of insulin they take.
In San Antonio, one woman has stopped taking her medication completely.
“It’s dangerous in the short term, but it’s even more dangerous in the long term,” said Endocrinologist, Dr. Alberto Velazquez.
Kandi Garcia stopped taking insulin 9 months ago when her husband was diagnosed with end-stage renal failure.
“I gave up everything so he could have his meds and I stopped taking mine,” Garcia said.
Her diabetes medication costs upwards of $700 a month.
“This is not a good thing for somebody like myself who has diabetes having to go through these problems and not being able to afford your own medication,” Garcia said.
A tejano singer, Garcia said being physically impacted daily has taken a toll on her career and even just the simple things most take for granted.
During the last 9 months, she has been managing her diabetes through her diet, which is sometimes, not enough.
“When your sugars drop really low, you actually feel like you’re dying,” Garcia said.
Velazquez said hypoglycemia or low blood sugar can lead to blindness, poor circulation and amputation.
Patients who depend on insulin can go into diabetic ketoacidosis in a matter or hours.
“They get severely dehydrated,” Velazquez said. “They can go pretty much into a coma and people can die from lack of insulin.”
Founder of the House Affordable Prescription Drug Task Force, Congressman Lloyd Doggett said the problem with drug pricing is the lack of competition among manufacturers.
‘If the pharmaceutical manufacturers will not negotiate in good faith, it authorizes competitive licensing,” Doggett said. “If you won’t sell it at a reasonable price, we will license other generic companies to come in and we’ll get good old american competition.”
HB 6505 (Negotiation)
HB 4117 (Pay for Delay)
Doggett also has a bill designed to increase transparency (HB 4116)
“I would love for it to be affordable for everyone,” Garcia said.
The University Health System and Texas Diabetes Institute have the following opportunities for patients to obtain insulin at no or reduced cost.
*The Medication Assistance Program (MAP) is the program within the Pharmacy Department of the University Health System, whose function is to assist uninsured and under insured patients in obtaining prescribed medications at no or reduced cost. To check if you eligible for MAP assistance contact a UHS Pharmacy near you.
*Texas Diabetes Institute Research Center is dedicated to identifying new information and medicines to help understand, prevent and control diabetes. Participation in a research study could afford a patient the opportunity receive insulin at no cost depending on the aim of the study. To join a study or for more information, click here
Methodist Healthcare Ministries helps patients with little to no insurance who are eligible for assistance.