Patriots Pro Bowl linebacker Dontâ€™a Hightower is hosting his fourth annual Monday Night Football Watch Party to raise funds for diabetes tonight at Patriot Place, an event that comes at a time when more and more people connected with the disease are sounding alarms over a steep spike in the cost of insulin.
Hightower has become a national ambassador for the American Diabetes Association since his mother, Lâ€™Tanya, was diagnosed with the disease four years ago.
â€śIt shook up their world, and since then heâ€™s been committed to raising funds and awareness,â€ť said Julia Lauria, director of marketing for Hightowerâ€™s agency, SportsTrust Advisors.
Hightower has raised over $200,000 for diabetes since he started, Lauria told the Herald yesterday. His effort comes at a time when the rising cost of insulin has caused many diabetics to ration their supply of the life-saving drug, according to a recent Kaiser Health News report.
The price of insulin in the Unites States has more than doubled since 2012, according to the report, causing many diabetics to search for affordable solutions.
Nicole Smith-Holt of Richfield, Minn., lost her son Alec Smith to diabetic complications three days before he was due to be paid. His insulin supply was empty.
â€śIt shouldnâ€™t have happened,â€ť Smith-Holt told Kaiser Health News. â€śThat cause of death of diabetic ketoacidosis should have never happened.â€ť
In Smithâ€™s case, his mother said they started reviewing his options in February of 2017 and that his pharmacist told him diabetes supplies would cost him $1,300 a month without insurance. Smith decided to go without insurance after finding out his annual deductible would be $7,600. He died one month after going off of his motherâ€™s insurance, according to the report.
A petition by the ADA advocating for more affordable insulin has collected 363,416 signatures.
A federal lawsuit filed in Massachusetts in 2017 and moved to New Jersey accuses drug makers Sanofi, Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk of conspiring to boost insulin prices at the expense of patients.
In 2016, Hightower, along with senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) went to Capitol Hill on behalf of the ADA to urge congress to increase funding for research into the disease and require Medicare to cover Continuous Glucose Monitors, as many insurance companies do.
Hightower has also joined the ADAâ€™s Team Tackle initiative.
â€śJust getting involved with the American Diabetes Association and joining Team Tackle, we really appreciate it,â€ť Hightower said via Patriots.com in 2017. â€śI personally know the struggles of women with diabetes and people with diabetes in general. … This is something small to give back to them.â€ť