The Insulin Cost Crisis

A Case of Pharmaceutical Greed


Becca Ford, Staff Writer

To the seven million Americans who have Diabetes, injected insulin has the same importance as oxygen. The cost of this medicine has been on the rise for the past 30 years. For these individuals, insulin is imperative to staying alive and healthy, so why do 1 in 4 diabetics have to ration this medication due to the high cost?

Since 1990, insulin prices have risen by 1,200%, especially from 2001 to 2015, where the price rose 585%.  Although the manufacturing costs are low, hovering between three dollars and six dollars, patients spend on average $5,705 annually on insulin alone. A singular vial of this “liquid gold” costs around $275. Since only three companies are the producers of around 90% of the insulin in America, they set the prices as high as possible. These big three producers, Eli Lily, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi, have been raising prices at the same rate for the past 30 years, thus eliminating the competition that capitalism is based on.

Thus, we must ask the question, how does this pricing affect the public?

For the diabetics who must apply for employer health plans, insurance plans with horrible premiums, due to the preexisting condition, can be impossible to pay and can lead to rationing these supplies. For other self-insured diabetics, these high prices force them to look at other outlets for the much-needed insulin. Insulin bought on the black market, Craig’s List, or off of friends and other sources can be amazingly unreliable and dangerous, yet in a life-or-death situation, it is necessary. Since 1 in every 4 diabetics are forced to ration supplies, as these prices continue to increase, there will be more accounts of death due to lake of insulin. For coming-of-age diabetics, their futures are dictated by pharmaceutical companies and their sky-rocketing prices.