CBS NEWS: Woman says her son couldn’t afford his insulin – now he’s dead

By CBS News

When Nicole Smith-Holt’s 26-year-old son died, he had just moved out of his parents’ home and was starting a life of his own.

“The hardest part is every time I tell the story, it’s like reality slaps me in my face that my son is no longer here,” Smith-Holt told CBS News correspondent Anna Werner.

Her son, Alec, was a Type 1 diabetic – someone who needs to take insulin every day to survive. But turning 26 meant his parents’ insurance would no longer cover the cost, shooting his monthly cost for insulin and supplies up to $1,300 per month, according to his mom.

“My son died because he could not afford his insulin,” she said.

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HEALIO/ENDOCRINE TODAY: Sandoz, Gan & Lee enter agreement to market insulin biosimilars

By Healio/Endocrine Today

Sandoz on Wednesday announced an agreement with Gan & Lee Pharmaceuticals to commercialize biosimilar versions of insulins used to treat patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, according to an industry press release.

The agreement covers biosimilar insulins in early and clinical development for the European Union and the United States for the top three selling branded insulins by sales: glargine (Lantus, Sanofi), lispro (Humalog, Eli Lilly) and aspart (NovoLog, Novo Nordisk). Sandoz, which currently has eight marketed biosimilars, is a division of Novartis Group.

Gan & Lee is a leading insulin supplier headquartered in China with more than 20 years’ experience in insulins and production capacity, according to Sandoz. Under the terms of the agreement, Sandoz will be fully responsible for commercializing these medicines in the EU, U.S., Switzerland, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Gan & Lee will be responsible for manufacturing and development, with support from Sandoz, and shall adhere to the stringent manufacturing requirements established for Sandoz biosimilars. Other specific terms of the agreement are confidential.

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BOSTON 25 NEWS: Spiking insulin costs causing dangerous behavior in diabetics

By Bob Dumas

Christopher Noble is one of 7 million Americans who need insulin to manage their diabetes.

For many, the cost is becoming increasingly difficult to manage, including those patients who have healthcare insurance.

Noble is a 28-year-old public health worker who has had to ration his insulin supply at times, despite knowing how dangerous that can be.

“Every person with type 1 diabetes that I’ve ever met has rationed their insulin,” he told Boston 25 News. “They know how much insulin they have in their fridge at any one moment.”

Noble says 20 years ago it was possible to buy a dose of insulin for $20.

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VALLEY NEWS: Rising drug prices hurt local families

By Veronica Marshall

“When he ended up getting discharged from the hospital, I was on my way over to the pharmacy, ‘Don’t worry babe, I’ll get your prescriptions filled!’ And I go over there and I was thinking $50, $100 maybe. No, it was thousands of dollars. So I stood there and I cried because I didn’t have an extra thousand dollars,” Naomi Burkland says. “A lady ended up giving me money. She handed me her money and said, ‘You need this more than I do.’ And so, I don’t know her name, and I tried to give it back – she would not take it back. I just want to say thank you. And I’ll never forget that. Ever.”

Burkland’s husband needs insulin to live after an illness wiped out his pancreas three years ago. But rising drug costs are forcing Burkland’s family to make tough decisions. “Between paying my premiums to have the insurance and the insulin out of pocket, I’m paying about $11,400 a year,” she says. “I love him, I want him to live, but I also need a roof over my children’s heads. So it gets to be very hard financially.”

Burkland’s family isn’t alone – more than 7-million Americans need insulin to live. But insulin prices have nearly tripled since 2002, causing some patients to go to extreme lengths to afford their medication.

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THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Insulin Quest: When Lifesaving Drugs Are Out of Reach

By Spencer Macnaughton and Conall Jones

Nearly one in 10 Americans has diabetes. But because of rising insulin prices many of them struggle to afford the drugs they need and some diabetics ration their dosage.

This episode of Moving Upstream examines how diabetics like Karyn Wofford, a 29-year-old freelance writer from Jackson, Ga., are finding unconventional ways to get their insulin. She trades diabetes medications with online friends on Facebook and Twitter , and she once created a GoFundMe page where she asked strangers to help pay for her medication.

In the video above, WSJ’s Jason Bellini also meets a group of everyday citizens who are trying to push back against rising insulin prices by producing their own formula of the drug.

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USA TODAY: Lack of insulin could affect 40 million people with diabetes by 2030, study finds

By Brett Molina

Insulin use is expected to rise 20 percent by 2030, and many people who need it for Type 2 diabetes won’t have access, a study from Stanford University suggests.

Globally, 511 million adults are expected to have Type 2 diabetes in 12 years, up from 406 million this year, the study found. More than half of those people come from China, India and the U.S.

The study found 79 million people worldwide will require insulin to treat the disease, but only 38 million will have access.

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American Diabetes Association® Reaffirms Commitment to Insulin Access and Affordability for All—Transparency on Insulin Pricing Critical

More than 400,000 individuals have signed the ADA’s Make Insulin Affordable petition, as the ADA marks second anniversary of the initiative.

ARLINGTON, Va. (November 16, 2018) — On the second anniversary of the Make Insulin Affordable initiative, the American Diabetes Association® (ADA) announces that more than 400,000 Diabetes Advocates have joined the call for affordable insulin for all who need it—the largest response to an ADA call to action to date. After its examination of the insulin supply chain, ADA and its Insulin Access and Affordability Working Group (Working Group) published recommendations and public policy solutions to address the problem. The ADA reaffirms its commitment to implementing these solutions and achieving affordable insulin for all who need it.

418,220 people have signed the petition. Their voices have been heard. Diabetes Advocates called for Congressional hearings to investigate the reasons for the dramatic increases in insulin costs. The U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging answered with a hearing in May of this year. Chief Scientific, Medical, and Mission Officer William T. Cefalu, MD, testified about the impact of the high costs on individuals with diabetes.

Diabetes Advocates called for Congress to take action to ensure all people who need insulin have affordable access. The Congressional Diabetes Caucus answered by releasing a list of policy recommendations they intend to pursue. Many of the Caucus’ recommendations align closely with ADA’s own proposals.

“There is no substitute for insulin, and access to insulin is a matter of life and death for more than 7.5 million Americans with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Too many are faced with the unacceptable choice of either rationing or forgoing insulin doses to reduce out-of-pocket costs, despite the serious and potential deadly complications of improper insulin dosing,” said Dr. Cefalu. “We are grateful for the continued collaboration of Congressional leaders to help us address this critical problem, including Senate Diabetes Caucus Co-Chairs Susan Collins and Jeanne Shaheen, and Congressional Diabetes Caucus Co-Chairs Diana DeGette and Tom Reed. Long-term solutions to this problem are our shared priority.”

Since the launch of ADA’s campaign, increased pressure from Diabetes Advocates has had a tangible impact for people with diabetes. States have passed legislation to require drug coverage to be more patient friendly. More discounts negotiated in the insulin supply chain will be shared with people with diabetes. These milestones are important, but our work will not be complete until individuals with diabetes see relief at the pharmacy counter.

The average price of insulin nearly tripled between 2002 and 2013[1]. The rising cost of and access to insulin ultimately impacts everyone and especially people with diabetes and their families, health care providers, insurers, employers and our national health care system. Current estimates project that diabetes was the most expensive chronic illness in the U.S. in 2017, at a total of more than $327 billion per year including $15 billion for insulin[2].

The ADA’s Make Insulin Affordable website (makeinsulinaffordable.org) includes information and resources for people who are struggling to pay for insulin, including new patient assistance programs recently launched by the insulin manufacturers as well as private assistance programs. The site also includes important links to information about the health insurance marketplaces and how to become a Diabetes Advocate.

“High insulin costs are impacting millions. We remain resolute in our commitment to meaningful solutions for this crisis,” concluded Dr. Cefalu.

[1] Hua X, Carvalho N, Tew M, Huang ES, Herman WH, Clarke P. Expenditures and prices of antihyperglycemic medications in the United States: 2002-2013. JAMA 2016;315: 1400–1402.

[2] Economic Costs of Diabetes in the U.S. in 2017. American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Care 2018; Mar; dci180007. https://doi.org/10.2337/dci18-0007.

THE HILL: Congressional report says insulin market benefits drugmakers and insurers, not patients

By Jessie Hellmann

“Perverse” incentives in the insulin supply chain lead to artificially high prices, as well as limited competition in the markets, according to a bipartisan report released Thursday by two lawmakers.

The report from Reps. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), co-chairs of the Congressional Diabetes Caucus, took more than a year to complete and concluded that several factors drive insulin prices up, while forces that would typically drive prices down are “blunted.”

“Many cannot live without it, but countless patients struggle to afford it,” DeGette and Reed said in a statement.

“As their out-of-pocket costs continue to rise, the current system is unfairly putting insulin out of reach – placing millions of lives at risk.”

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HEALTHLINE: Why Is the Cost of Insulin Rising and What Can People Do About It?

By Ginger Vieira

Insulin in the United States isn’t free — in fact, it’s remarkably expensive, with some of today’s newest varieties costing over $500 for a box of five pens, according to GoodRx.

And its cost is still rising.

List prices of insulin have nearly tripled from 2002 to 2013, according to a report from a working group at the American Diabetes Association.

Some patients are also reportedly rationing their insulin because taking too little is better than having none to take at all. The result is people with diabetes living with dangerously high blood glucose levels, putting their health and even their lives in danger.

But the questions of who is to blame for skyrocketing prices and what can be done about it don’t have simple answers.

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CBS NY: Illegal Insulin: Desperate Diabetes Patients Turn To Black Market For Affordable Drugs

By CBS Staff

After years of rising insulin prices, a growing number of diabetics and their families are now facing some tough choices when it comes to paying for the drug.

Some are turning to the black market to buy illegal insulin.

“So many people are dying because they just can’t afford their insulin,” parent Doreen Rudolph said.

Rudolph says she’s doing everything she can to make sure that doesn’t happen to her 27-year-old daughter, Nicole, a Type-1 diabetic.

When her daughter was first diagnosed, Rudolph says a vial of insulin cost about $21.

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