By: Glenn Howatt
Robert Newton has been taking insulin for years to keep his diabetes in check, but with the medication now costing him $500 a month, there are times when he has no choice but to ration his supply and take less than he should.
“I only get so much money a month,” said the 65-year-old recent retiree. “It takes up almost half of the money that I get.”
Newton’s is the sort of story that no doctor wants to hear. But the price of insulin has more than tripled in the last decade, and now thousands of diabetics in Minnesota are struggling to afford the medication they need to keep their blood sugar under control.
A recent Star Tribune analysis of Medicare spending in Minnesota found that prices have soared for numerous widely used medications — including certain antibiotics, blood pressure drugs and insulin — because of limited competition and other factors.
In the case of insulin, quite apart from the financial burden, the stunning price increase has forced some diabetics into practices that can place their lives at risk and has left many doctors across the state worrying about their patients’ health.