Insulin is a life-sustaining medication for all people with type 1 diabetes and many people with type 2 diabetes, although its high price tag makes it seem like a luxury. Recently, a patient of mine with type 1 diabetes went to the pharmacy and was told her insulin would cost $450. She was asked if she still wanted it. “No, actually I don’t want it!” She said. “But I need it to live, so I don’t have a choice.”
Unfortunately this scenario is all too common. Some people have to choose between insulin and paying their bills. I’ve seen people ration their insulin only to end up in the hospital in diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). This is a serious problem!
The [Insulin Affordability Task Force] chose to work on something solution-focused. This led to the Insulin Cost Savings Resource Guide.
The problem is complex and it’s not completely clear what is the cause or who is to blame. As the outgoing Pharmacy Community of Interest (COI) Leader, I was fortunate to get tons of volunteers when I mentioned the idea of an Insulin Affordability Task Force. These volunteers chose to work on something solution-focused. This led to the Insulin Cost Savings Resource Guide.
There is a lot of information out there and many great websites. However, it can be overwhelming trying to find all of that information when you have that unique person in front of you. There is also a lot of confusion about which patients can specifically utilize certain co-pay cards or qualify for certain patient assistance programs (PAP). Our task force volunteers consolidated all the information into a simple-to-use format. One of our members, Robin Southwood, had the great idea to include a table with various patient scenarios that the busy clinician can use to quickly determine the best options.
There is still much to be done on the advocacy side of things. Lilly recently announced they will reduce the price of insulin lispro in half, but the price tag is still high, especially for people without insurance coverage or people using higher doses of insulin. Walmart insulins including Novolin N and Novolion R are available for $25 per vial without a prescription. However, not everyone lives near a Walmart, has the dexterity to use a vial and syringe, or can even afford this if they are taking high doses of insulin. This type of regimen, while better than nothing, is not optimal for many people due to the duration of action of these insulins.
We expect that programs and options for discounted insulin will continue to expand. The Insulin Cost-Saving Task Force plans to update this resource guide regularly as new programs become available or existing ones change. We hope you enjoy and please reach out to let us know if you have any suggestions or feedback.