The Insulin Price Crisis
Insulin is as necessary to a person with diabetes as oxygen is to any human being, and there are over 7 million Americans that rely on injected insulin to stay alive and healthy.
- Insulin was first used to treat a person with diabetes in 1922. The discoverers sold the patent for $1 each so it could be accessible for all.
- Today, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi – the ‘big three’ insulin producers – dominate more than 90% of the world insulin market by value.
- Since the 1990s, the cost of insulin has increased over 1,200%.
- List prices of insulin have been rising at the same rate at the same time for at least the past 10 years.
- Between 2001 and 2015 the price of Humalog insulin increased 585%.
- The cost of production for a vial of most analog insulins is between $3.69 and $6.16.
- Spending by patients with type 1 diabetes on insulin nearly doubled from 201 to 2016, increasing from $2900 to $5700.
- List price matters because 8.8% of Americans are uninsured and 47.0% have high deductible plans.
- Average total Medicare Part D spending on insulin products increased by 358% between 2007 and 2016, from $862 to $3,949.
- One of every four patients with type 1 diabetes has had to ration their insulin due to cost. Many have died.
This crisis is forcing patients to resort to drastic measures to stay alive. The unbearable cost means that countless people have to choose between buying their essential insulin and paying their rent, buying food, or other unthinkable sacrifices.
What Can You Do?
Join your local Chapter. Never done advocacy before? Many of our Chapter members were in the same position before starting. Your T1International Chapter will provide the support you need to get going. They can help you with a group of like-minded people fighting for the same things, as well as resources, tips on reaching out to legislators, and more!
Call your representatives. This means calling your senators, your congressional representative and your state representatives. To find your federal representatives, enter your zip code on Contacting Congress. To find your state representatives, look up your address on Open States. When calling, ask to speak to a legislative aide or staffer who works on health policy.
Tell them your story. This is often the most important thing to share with your representatives. Do you have a story of a time you or your family had to buy insulin out of pocket or struggled with costs? Do you have fear and anxiety of not being able to afford the costs of your insulin or diabetes supplies day to day? Tell them! If you're nervous about this part, reach out and we can help you.
Have an ask. Telling your story makes the issue real, but we also need to ask our reps to take action on the high price of insulin. Here are some examples:
- Ask your state representative if you can arrange a meeting to speak about insulin pricing in person. If you get a meeting, we can help you prepare.
- Ask them to support specific legislation that would help end the insulin pricing crisis, and ask them to oppose any legislation that would make the crisis worse.
- Ask them to consider bringing forth legislation similar to SB539, which was passed and signed into law in Nevada.
- Most importantly, tell them that the price of insulin in America is too high. Ask them to do whatever they can do to bring unaffordable costs down and ensure all diabetics have access to the insulin they need.
- Tell them about the protest happening on September 14th and ask them if they will voice their support.