Affordability of Insulin
After individuals eat a meal, their blood glucose levels begin to rise. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, allows the body to use the glucose from food for energy and storage within cells. Diabetes is a disease in which blood sugar levels are too high in the body due to the lack or disfunction of insulin. Type 1 diabetes is when the body is unable to make insulin, while Type 2 diabetes is when the body does not use insulin well. According to the American Diabetes Association, in 2015, 30.3 million Americans, or 9.4% of the population, had diabetes. Constantly having too much glucose in the bloodstream can cause damage to the eyes, kidneys, and nerves as well as increase the chances for heart disease, stroke, and even death.
Back in the late 1980’s, when certain insulin brands first came on the market, the price for a one-month supply of insulin was around $20. In 2019, a vial of insulin is estimated to be around $300 per month. Diabetics that can’t afford health insurance have to pay out of pocket for these expensive vials of insulin. These individuals are also likely to not make enough to sustain their living expenses as well as health expenses. As a result, these Americans are at a higher risk of developing diabetic ketoacidosis, which is an accumulation of toxic ketones due to high blood sugar. This condition is very serious and can be life-threatening.
Insulin has become so expensive because the production of this drug is manufactured by three big insulin producers: Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi. These companies dominate more than 90% of the world insulin market. These companies hold a monopoly over countries that use one of them for the majority of their insulin since they can set the price as they desire. This is very unethical as some Americans are dying from not being able to afford insulin. The United States needs to prioritize this epidemic as rates of diabetes are only increasing in our country. The government needs to make a change so that insulin can become more affordable for everyone.
Posted by “Lauren Shone” (6)