Monday, 20 May 2019

High insulin prices causing concerns for diabetics – Local 5 –

DES MOINES – Insulin prices have jumped nearly 200% in the last nine years and that has sparked a lot of frustration for patients who depend on it. The rise in insulin prices has forced some diabetics to ration or skip their dose of insulin because it is too expensive. Local 5 spoke with a doctor and a patient who say insulin shouldn’t be a luxury, it’s a matter of life or death. 

At first glance you wouldn’t know it, but Mary Rempp lives with type one diabetes. “I was diagnosed when I was a sophomore in high school almost 50 years ago.”

Since then, she admits treating the disease has gotten easier. “It was probably 10, 15 years after I was diagnosed that we were able to poke our fingers, we had to pee on a stick.”  

Despite overcoming those hurdles, she and other diabetics are trying to get around a new road block, the spike in insulin prices. “I am really anxious about that.” 

Mary’s insurance covers a good chunk of her insulin. She pays $40 for a three months supply. But with her husband on the verge of retiring, she might not be able to afford the high prices. Which can cost hundreds of dollars. 

“If the body isn’t able to make any insulin you don’t survive very long,” says Dr. Teck Khoo. 

Dr. Khoo is an Endocrinologist at Mercy Hospital. He’s frustrated with companies who think it’s okay to over charge for the medication. “I think it has to do with monopoly, there is so much leverage and minimal competition so at the end of the day the patients pay.” 

He stresses that even with the high prices, no diabetic should skip their dose of insulin. “Far too often you hear they end up in the ICU or die.”  

Due to public outrage, some of the companies that produce insulin have cut their prices in half. Patient’s like Mary hope others do the same. 

Senator Chuck Grassley says insulin companies should be embarrassed by their actions. He’s working to craft a bill so prices can be regulated.  


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