Home Diabetes PriceWatch: Is the High Cost of Insulin Keeping Patients from Taking Meds?

PriceWatch: Is the High Cost of Insulin Keeping Patients from Taking Meds?

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Kaiser Health News recently reported that drug price escalations have become a nationwide topic. Democratic Presidential Candidate Sen. Kamala Harris of California noted at a recent CNN town hall, “one out of four diabetes patients in our country cannot afford their insulin.” This is quite shocking for the world’s richest GDP to have 25% of its population not have the health access to procure basic medication. The cost of insulin has been a top of mind concern based on recent survey (and lawsuits).

The American Diabetes Association reports that 1.25 million have Type 1 diabetes—less common than Type 2— and they cannot live without insulin. TrialSite News has written about dramatically escalating insulin prices by just a few vendors that have appeared to corner the market: Novo Nordisk, Sanofi, and Lilly. Does Kamala Harris claim hold true?

“Kaiser, one of the largest health systems in the United States, did some research into Harris’ claims… How does Kaiser Health come down on the claim?

The lack of a national study is an issue, for sure, and to some extent limits the extent to which we can put stock in Harris’ 1-4 figure. It’s also important to remember that it refers to a narrower group—only patients with Type 1—rather than all people with diabetes.

But experts broadly suggested that the findings in the three reports (surveyed by Kaiser) referenced—one peer-reviewed academic paper and two surveys—amply support her claim. And the board meaning of the phase “Cannot afford” means the problem could be more significant than these datasets suggest since they measure only people going without medication, not those for whom insulin prices maybe create other financial issues.”

The Kaiser Verdict: Kamala Harris’ statement “is accurate but needs some additional information. We rate this claim Mostly True.”

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