Cost Of Insulin In United States Doubles Between 2002-2013

by Lina Bryce

According to a new study, the cost for one of the most important treatments for diabetes, insulin, rose by nearly 200 percent between 2002 and 2013.

Researchers report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that other diabetes medications have also increased in price, but that total spending on insulin in 2013 was greater than spending on all other diabetes drugs combined.

“The large increase in costs can largely be explained [by] much greater use of newer types of insulin known as analog insulins,” said senior author Philip Clarke, a professor and researcher at the University of Melbourne in Australia. “While these drugs can be better for some patients, they are much more costly than the human insulin they replaced.”

Researchers looked at data from 2002 to 2013 on U.S. medical spending from the 27,878 Americans living with diabetes to reach their conclusions. The average age of the participants was about 60.

As the average patients’ use of insulin increased over the years, so too did the cost of insulin — averaging an increase of 197 percent, from $4.34 to $12.92 per mL.

Having lived with diabetes for over two decades, Roberta Reed of Texas understands all too well how the rising costs negatively impacts healthcare:

Although the quality and functionality of insulin continues to improve, the increasing cost of it is pushing my bank account. It’s not as if I can choose to skip a month to keep costs down — I need this medication daily to stay alive, so there’s no choice in the matter. Having to also take three types of insulin each day does not ease the situation. It’s no wonder we continue to see growing complications caused by diabetes. If people can’t afford to take care of themselves due to rising costs, there won’t be any improvement!

RELATED: Happy Birthday Obamacare! Here Are the ACA’s Six Biggest Failures

According to Fox News,

Annual spending on insulin per patient increased from $231.48 to $736.09 over the study period. By 2013, the per-patient spending on insulin was greater than the per-patient combined spending on other diabetes drugs, which was $502.57.

The price of oral diabetes drugs known as DPP-4 inhibitors, such as sitagliptin and linagliptin, increased 34 percent between 2006 and 2013. The cost per pill of metformin actually fell by 93 percent from 2002 to 2013.

Despite the affordability promises of the Affordable Care Act, researchers do believe that with current regulations and the costs involved with bringing comparable products to the market, the price of insulin is not likely to go down. In fact, it’s more likely to continue to go up.

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