Insulin price shock

By: David Sell

Injectable insulin, which keeps some diabetics alive and keeps others out of serious health crises, has soared in price in the last few years.

“It is out of control,” said Carol Hammond, 72, a diabetic who lives in North Philadelphia and survives on Social Security. “My rent isn’t too bad, but after paying for insulin, I don’t have much left.”

Hammond said she skips buying or taking doses because her Medicare and Medicare Advantage health insurance plans don’t always cover the cost of her insulin at the pharmacy counter. Her doctor helps her find it cheaper and gives her an occasional sample.

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New York Times: How to Decrease Prices for an Expensive Class of Drugs

By: Austin Frakt

Competition among generic drug makers pushes drug prices downward. But such competition is weak for a growing and expensive class of drugs called biologics. A big reason has to do with the science that underlies them.

Biologics — large-molecule, protein-based drugs — are made by living organisms, not by chemical processes, which are the source of non-biologic, or small-molecule, drugs. Their complexity makes them harder to reverse engineer than small-molecule drugs, making generic versions of them — called biosimilars — more costly to bring to market.

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Business Insider: Why a lifesaving drug that’s been around since 1923 is still unaffordable

By: Ellie Kincaid

An essential drug that has been on the market for decades still has a sticker price out of range for some patients who need it.

Insulin, a life-saving treatment for diabetes, was first patented in 1923. Unlike many common, even newer medicines, a generic option does not exist. Because there isn’t a generic option available, a month’s supply of insulin can cost a patient more than $100 per month — a cost patients must often bear for their whole lives.

While the number of uninsured people in the US is going down, a 2005 study estimated that nearly a million Americans with diabetes didn’t have any form of insurance.