In a state where studies show more than 250,000 people have some form of diabetes, the cost of insulin is a major issue. West Virginia has the highest percentage of people affected by some form of diabetes.
So when insulin prices nearly tripled between 2002 and 2013, and remain at the higher levels, people had to start making decisions whether to remain on insulin, to cut doses or to forgo other things — like food.
As basic as that may sound, studies have shown the rising cost of insulin has had a dramatic effect on people, especially those with fewer resources or insurance that had a high deductible.
For those with Type 1 diabetes, insulin is life sustaining. Without it, people die.
Many of those with Type 2 diabetes begin treatment with lifestyle changes and/or oral medication, but medical evidence shows that a majority end up on insulin at some point in their lives.
With these factors in mind, we strongly support legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate this week — the Insulin Price Reduction Act.
Introduced by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire, and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who are co-chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, as well as Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, and Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-North Dakota, the bill shows a real bipartisan effort to reduce the inflationary practices of drug manufacturers in regards to life-sustaining medication.
“Insulin is a matter of life and death,” said LaShawn McIver, MD, MPH, senior vice president of Government Affairs and Advocacy for the American Diabetes Association. “For the many Americans who cannot afford their insulin, the consequences can be dire, including dangerous complications and even death.
“The American Diabetes Association applauds Senators Shaheen, Collins, Carper and Cramer for their leadership to address this urgent issue. We implore all members of Congress to act swiftly to bring down the cost of this life-saving medication by supporting the Insulin Price Reduction Act.”
It was the American Diabetes Association (ADA) survey of 2018 that brought to light the ongoing struggle of diabetics in balancing the soaring costs of insulin with other life expenses.
As the ADA press release stated, the survey “confirmed that many individuals who face high out-of-pocket costs for insulin are not adhering to their diabetes care plan — they are forced to either ration or forgo insulin doses to reduce costs.
“Insulin is essential to maintaining appropriate blood glucose levels and reducing the risk of serious complications such as cardiovascular disease, blindness, kidney disease, amputation and death. When insulin is not taken appropriately, the risk of serious complications increases and could lead to emergency hospitalization and death.”
We urge Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia, to quickly join forces with the four sponsors to push the Insulin Price Reduction Act to passage and then advocate House members to join the effort.
Not only will this law help those directly affected by diabetes and their families, it will send a clear message that President Donald Trump and Congress are serious in their efforts to put more stringent pricing guidelines in place to protect the American public.
Lawmakers and the president need to hold pharmaceutical companies more accountable and responsible.
An editorial from the Exponent Telegram (West Virginia).