Soaring insulin costs to be tackled in the US

Jack Woodfield
Tue, 06 Nov 2018
Soaring insulin costs to be tackled in the US
Spiralling costs in the US are being tackled a bid to stop people with diabetes from rationing their insulin.

The Endocrine Society is calling on pharmaceutical companies, chemists, health plans, pharmacy managers and wholesalers to help reduce costs to make the medication more affordable.

The organisation, which is devoted to hormone research and the clinical practice of endocrinology, has said that insulin costs have nearly tripled in the past 15 years in the US making it hard for people with diabetes to afford their insulin.

Insulin is an essential medication for people with type 1 diabetes. Unlike the UK, where the NHS is largely funded by tax payers, US citizens must pay for their own medical bills and treatment either through insurance or via their own pocket, which can be a significant financial burden.

In a statement, the Endocrine Society has recommended several policy changes to help increase access to affordable insulin, including greater transparency within the insulin supply chain and limited price hikes in the future.

The statement said: "This has put patient safety in jeopardy as patients opt to ration their insulin or forgo other medical care. Research indicates that a lack of transparency in the drug supply chain has made it challenging to identify the root cause of price increases."

The Society said the actual costs of insulin can be "difficult to pinpoint because of a lack of transparency in financial agreements between stakeholders in the supply chain, geographical differences in cost, and insurance coverage."

Society spokesperson Rita Kalyani, Associate Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said: "Without clear information about expenses incurred by various players in the supply chain, we cannot fully understand what is driving costs up or how to best reduce insulin costs for people with diabetes in the future.

"High costs are forcing some people with diabetes to make the life-threatening decision to ration insulin. This is unacceptable for optimal patient care. Everyone needs to be part of the solution to this problem."

The statement can be read in full here.
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