The discovery of insulin, a treatment for diabetes, was a major breakthrough. When inventor Frederick Banting discovered insulin in 1923, he refused to put his name on the patent. He felt it was unethical for a doctor to profit from a discovery that would save lives.
Banting’s co-inventors, James Collip and Charles Best, sold the insulin patent to the University of Toronto for a mere $1. They wanted everyone who needed their medication to be able to afford it.
Today, Banting and his colleagues would be spinning in their graves: Their drug, which many of the 30 million Americans with diabetes rely on, has become the poster child for pharmaceutical price gouging. The cost of the four most popular types of insulin has tripled over the past decade—and out-of-pocket prescription costs patients now face have doubled. On average, the medical costs related to diabetes can reach over $9,500 per year.—and costs continue to rise so much so that as many as one in four people with diabetes are now skimping on or skipping lifesaving doses.
Members of Congress have been pressuring drug companies and pharmacy benefit managers to bring insulin costs under control—and there have been several promising moves.
In May, Colorado took the unusual step of capping the price of insulin in the state: A new law says people with diabetes won’t have to shell out more than $100 per monthly copay for the drug, regardless of how much they use. The state’s attorney general will also investigate rising insulin prices and make recommendations for other legislative changes.
As an Emergency Room Registered Nurse, I often care for patients suffering from diabetic emergencies. The most common cause of these emergencies is the inability to afford diabetic supplies, most importantly insulin. This lack of access leads to patients not adhering to their prescribed dosages, which can cause serious health problems including death.
Insulin prices have been a hot-button issue for years, with politicians and advocacy groups arguing that the soaring price of the essential medicine is unsustainable and an injustice to people with diabetes.
Nurses and doctors struggle to help these patients. We swear an oath to do no harm and as a nurse, I am committed to advocating for my patients. For this reason, I feel it is my duty to bring attention to this issue and encourage all americans to do the same.
I support a cap on insulin costs as well as diabetic supplies for all Americans. Insurance Companies make plenty of profit elsewhere. No human being should have to choose between lifesaving medication and severe financial hardship.