Monday, 20 May 2019

Digging Deeper: Soaring prescription drug prices – WGEM

QUINCY (WGEM) — People in the Tri-States are feeling the pinch of soaring prescription drug prices.

A new study finds the cost of Insulin for treating type 1 diabetes nearly *doubled* in five years. That jump is having a big impact in Tri-States.

Jamie Wellman

For type 1 diabetics like Jamie Wellman, Insulin is a matter of life or death.

But the price of Insulin is making it harder and harder for diabetics to keep up with the medications they desperately need. Studies show Insulin prices have increased more than 1,000 percent in the past 25 years.

“I typically use 10, 11, 12 a month with running anywhere from $100 to $200 per vial,” said Wellman.

The increase is in part to rising list prices and markup over the cost of production.

Wellman said, “it’s frustrating because this medicine is something I can’t go without. I need it to live.”

But in a world of skyrocketing Insulin prices, Wellman says she is one of the lucky ones. She’s a Blessing employee and thanks to Blessing’s “Be Well at Work Program,” her Insulin and test strips are free.

“My daily Insulin tripled by the end of my pregnancy and I don’t know if I’d be able to go through that if I had to pay for my Insulin. Without it I don’t think my baby would be here right now,” said Wellman.

At the Blessing Employee Pharmacy, they have a medication fridge filled with all types of Insulin, all with one thing in common: diabetics need these to stay alive.

Without that program and with a newborn baby at home, Wellman worries how she’d survive.

Wellman  said, “it’d be very difficult, hard on my family, that’s potentially another house payment.”

Some people do it by turning to drastic measures.

But, Endocrinologist Dr. Vinay Patel says rationing Insulin is extremely dangerous for diabetics, especially in the long run.

“Number 1 cause of amputations, number 1 cause of blindness, number 1 cause of kidney damage is diabetes so, we also worry about those good old blood vessels,” said Patel.

If you are struggling to pay for Insulin, there are options available including patience assistance programs and even a much cheaper version sold at Wal-Mart.

Although, Diabetes Care Specialist, Jennifer Frericks said, “that insulin is not nearly as good as what we would like them to use.”

Though Wal-Mart Insulin is older and less stable. Frericks says it’s better than rationing or going without, something Dr. Patel agrees with.

“If we have to use those, they are still available, cut the cost down some but we may lose some control,” said Patel.

Now there is a lot being done to stop these skyrocketing price, including congressional hearings.

And diabetics will soon have a cheaper option for Insulin, the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly has announced that it will soon offer a generic version of its top-selling insulin at half the price.

If you’re not a Blessing employee and struggling to pay for Insulin there are options for you. If you’re a Blessing patient, contact your physician so you can get in touch with a care coordinator and find a program based on your income

JDRF: Help with Your Diabetes Prescription and Insulin Costs
JDRF: Health Insurance Guide


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