24 votes

Insulin Prices Have More Than Doubled in the Last 6 Years — and Now People Are Dying Because They Can’t Afford the Drug

9 comments

  1. [2]
    deadaluspark Link
    My father is considering moving to Mexico just to be able to afford it. Don't even get me started on how I'm almost positive some executive thought they were helping people fight obesity or some...

    My father is considering moving to Mexico just to be able to afford it.

    Don't even get me started on how I'm almost positive some executive thought they were helping people fight obesity or some dumb shit by doing this, ("It will incentivize losing weight!") probably completely forgetting that some people are born with it.

    12 votes
    1. vakieh Link Parent
      I think you're overlooking the more obvious charge more, get more philosophy of business.

      I'm almost positive some executive thought they were helping people fight obesity or some dumb shit by doing this

      I think you're overlooking the more obvious charge more, get more philosophy of business.

      3 votes
  2. [3]
    aintnonormie Link
    This is very upsetting — what’s the price worth if your customers are dying because they can’t afford it? Or does it not matter because almost 10% of the population already have diabetes? How is...

    This is very upsetting — what’s the price worth if your customers are dying because they can’t afford it? Or does it not matter because almost 10% of the population already have diabetes?

    How is there no concrete answer to the outrageous prices? $1000/month? From an article linked within the article:

    “"We do not believe that there is a conspiracy to keep insulin expensive," he says.

    Rather, he says, incremental improvements in the drug — and the disappearance of older versions, which aren't as profitable — are more likely explanations.”

    So it’s less about efficacy and more about profits, then? This is just one of a few of their postulations on why prices have increased. It’s ridiculous. There needs to be real answers, not speculation. Why does our government idly stand by, why has it not been investigated?

    For chrissakes, the guy was only 26! He died less than a month after aging out of his mom’s health insurance. What does that say about the US?

    8 votes
    1. SleepyGary Link Parent
      Yet somehow it remains very affordable north and south of the USA borders.

      "We do not believe that there is a conspiracy to keep insulin expensive," he says.

      Yet somehow it remains very affordable north and south of the USA borders.

      7 votes
    2. kfwyre Link Parent
      This is a pretty common tactic. From Elizabeth Rosenthal's An American Sickness: I don't know enough about insulin formation to know if it's susceptible to product hopping, but Rosenthal does...

      "Rather, he says, incremental improvements in the drug — and the disappearance of older versions, which aren't as profitable — are more likely explanations."

      This is a pretty common tactic. From Elizabeth Rosenthal's An American Sickness:

      The industry name for this maneuver is “product hopping,” and Warner Chilcott was, historically, a master artist. A lawsuit filed by Mylan Pharmaceuticals alleged that Warner intentionally moved its acne medication Doryx from one form to another three times in order to stymie the launch of a generic. It swapped a capsule for a tablet; developed a version that could be broken up and sprinkled on applesauce; and introduced a new scored pill. Since generics must be identical in dosage and form to the brand-name drug for a pharmacist to substitute, each move succeeded in delaying competition from generics for years.

      I don't know enough about insulin formation to know if it's susceptible to product hopping, but Rosenthal does specifically name insulin on the previous page of the book and uses it as an example of how companies can use lawsuits to protect products and prevent better care:

      In 2013 the world’s bestselling brand of insulin was Lantus, owned by Sanofi Aventis, which was scheduled to lose U.S. patent protection in 2015. Lantus is taken daily by many type 1 diabetics along with short-acting insulin to dampen the high and low swings of blood sugar. Sanofi had a virtual monopoly on this market, worth billions, and increased U.S. prices by 25 percent in 2013. Patients had trouble affording the $300 a month jacked-up price. So many American diabetics were ordering Lantus from Canada that the FDA sent warning letters to firms like CanaRx informing them that the practice was illegal; it noted that the drug must be shipped cold and could be harmed in transit. (One skeptical diabetic noted, “Why is it I can order steaks and seafood from California that’ll arrive frozen and cold from over 3,000 miles away, yet I can’t get 52° insulin from Canada?”)

      When I asked Susan Brooks, a spokesperson for Sanofi, about the price increase, she was open about the strategy to optimize profit with cheaper generic products on the horizon, “which might result in lower prices for all products within a given therapeutic class” (emphasis mine). Eli Lilly, another giant in the world of diabetes, had created a “biosimilar” (e.g., generic) version of Lantus and was prepared to launch as soon as Lantus’s U.S. patents lapsed. Indeed, Lilly’s Lantus biosimilar was already in use in many developed countries, where intellectual property laws are less business-friendly and patents less litigated.

      In 2014, to eke out a little more time with patent protection for Lantus in the United States, Sanofi sued, claiming that the Lilly product violated four patents, which triggered the automatic thirty-month Hatch-Waxman “waiting period.” “So the biggest thing that will affect patients with type 1 diabetes here is being decided legally not medically,” David Kliff, editor of Diabetic Investor and himself a person with type 1 diabetes, told me. “I know that sounds crazy but it’s true. The only people who win are the lawyers and the patent holder.” After some further backroom business deals between the two companies, the legal action was “settled” and the patent was set to expire in December 2016.

      If you're at all interested in American healthcare and the ways in which it is dysfunctional, the book is a recommended read.

      4 votes
  3. [3]
    Ufeldraku Link
    Reading this hurts a lot. How can a "1st" world country have a really bad healthcare system? Paying $7600 out of pocket in order to get insurance? Why did prices raise, when there should have been...

    Reading this hurts a lot. How can a "1st" world country have a really bad healthcare system? Paying $7600 out of pocket in order to get insurance? Why did prices raise, when there should have been none? How in the world something goes from being 20 dollars to 1 grand?

    4 votes
    1. [2]
      munche Link Parent
      Turns out supply and demand gets turned on it's head when you only have the options to buy the medication or die.

      Turns out supply and demand gets turned on it's head when you only have the options to buy the medication or die.

      5 votes
      1. Ufeldraku Link Parent
        Monopolies suck, and worst thing is that there's nothing that people can die aside from suing the pharma corps and hoping that they win and good changes are made.

        Monopolies suck, and worst thing is that there's nothing that people can die aside from suing the pharma corps and hoping that they win and good changes are made.

        2 votes
  4. Grendel Link
    I want to know if the pharma companies have a reason for this. The technology to make insulin has improved, why has the price gone up? I'm sure it's just a money grab, but as the husband of a type...

    I want to know if the pharma companies have a reason for this. The technology to make insulin has improved, why has the price gone up?

    I'm sure it's just a money grab, but as the husband of a type 1 diabetic I can say it sucks for patients.

    2 votes