Efforts continue to lower and cap price of insulin

President Joe Biden pushes for a cap on insulin prices now that millions of Medicare customers are seeing reduced prices for their diabetes medication.
Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 3:08 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - President Joe Biden continues to push for a cap on insulin prices now that millions of Medicare customers are seeing reduced prices for their diabetes medication other companies are beginning to follow suit.

“Insulin is required for life. You know, this is not a luxury drug. This is required for life and children and adults die from diabetes not being treated,” said Baystate Children’s Hospital Chair of the Department of Pediatrics Dr. Charlotte Boney.

As part of President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, nearly four million seniors on Medicare with diabetes started to see their insulin costs capped at $35 per month this past January. Now, other pharmaceutical companies are following suit allowing those without Medicare beneficiaries to also reap the benefits of affordable insulin. Just this month, Eli Lilly announced they are lowering the cost of insulin by 70 percent and capping what patients pay out-of-pocket for insulin at $35. Meanwhile, the president continues to call on Congress to finish the job and cap costs at $35 for all Americans.

“Of course, hearing that some pharmaceutical companies are going to reduce the cost of insulin warms our hearts. It’s about time and will it be enough,” Boney added.

The high cost of insulin has led to many patients rationing their doses and, although this isn’t recommended, Boney explained that some patients have no choice. It’s a struggle one Holyoke resident told us she knows all too well.

“You’re always wondering when you’re going to fall into a coma because if your blood sugar is high,” said Zabeeda Sibdhanny of Holyoke.

“If you’re an adult and you run out of insulin for yourself, you ration it. If you’re an adult with a child with diabetes, then that means you’re doing everything you can to get by with a barest amount of insulin for your kid and that means you’re cutting out something else. You’re not paying the rent, you’re not buying enough food, you’re not buying gas for your car,” Boney explained.

Sibdhanny told us she’s had to put off retirement to afford her vials along with the other meds needs as a diabetic.

“I can’t afford to retire, you know. It’s too, too much,” Sibdhanny added.

Boney said when children and adults don’t get enough insulin, they end up in the hospital if they’re lucky. She added that in the last two weeks alone, she’s seen two children in the pediatric intensive care unit due to a lack of insulin.

“We had a family with a kid with new onset Type I diabetes. The out-of-pocket cost to her was $400 so she was not able to buy the insulin for her child,” Boney noted.

Boney added that, typically, those who can’t afford the medication become regulars in the emergency department, which puts a strain on the healthcare system. Also, not only is insulin a lifesaving drug, Boney said it helps lower the risk of developing complications like cardiovascular or kidney disease down the road.