U.S. Insulin Costs Almost Doubled From 2012 to 2016

The cost of insulin in the U.S. has almost doubled in a five-year period. The increasing insulin costs led some diabetics to put their own health at peril.

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U S Insulin Costs Almost Doubled

In the United States, the insulin cost for treating Type 1 diabetes nearly doubled from 2012 to 2016, emphasizing on a national outcry due to the price hike, according to a new study.

According to the findings published on Tuesday by the non-profit Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI), people with type 1 diabetes spent $2,864 per patient on insulin in 2012 compared to the increased cost of $5,705 per patient in 2016.

The figures signify the combined amount paid by diabetics and their health plan for the medicine. And the figures do not reflect reimbursements paid at a later date.

This exponential increase in the cost of insulin in the U.S. has resulted in some diabetics to put their health at risk.

In some recent months, a group of patients and family members has been protesting outside the headquarters of several insulin manufacturers. There have been stories cropped up from many patients and family members, requesting the rationing of the lifesaving drugs, including insulin, because they could not afford the expenses.

The HCCI opine the price hike could be due to increased use of insulin among diabetics. However, an average insulin use on a daily basis rose by only 3 percent from 2012 to 2016, the officials found.

Jeannie Fuglesten Biniek, a senior HCCI researcher and the study’s co-author, said in a phone interview, “It’s not that individuals are using more insulin or that new products are particularly innovative or provide immense benefits.” “Use is pretty flat, and the price changes are occurring in both older and newer products. That surprised me. The exact same products are costing double.”

Insulin manufacturers say they have to raise the U.S. list prices periodically to help balance sharp reimbursements they offer to get them covered by the insurance plans. In the last couple of years, leading pharmaceutical companies have limited the annual price hikes on prescription drugs due to growing pressure from the Congress and Trump administration.

The researchers of the study tracked the data from insurance claims on about 80 million people, collecting information from the Medicare health plan for people aged 65 and above, and leading health insurers such as UnitedHealth Group, Aetna (CVS Health Corp.), Humana Inc., and Kaiser Permanente.

The report analyzed the annual commercial claims data for approximately 15,000 patients with Type 1 diabetes who had at least one insulin prescription during the year.

According to the findings, the average insulin price increased from 13 cents per unit to 25 cents per unit from 2012 to 2016. And for an average patient using 60 units a day, the daily insulin cost rose from $7.80 in 2012 to $15 in 2016.

The evaluation also finds that the prescription drug prices climb in spite of Trump promise.

In October, the attorney general of Minnesota sued the three insulin manufacturers, accusing them of deviously raising prices. A similar litigation on behalf of patients has been pending in New Jersey federal court.

By far, in 2019, Sanofi increased prices on a few insulin products from 4.4 percent to 5.2 percent. Novo Nordisk increased prices on its insulin by 4.9 percent. However, Lilly had not increased its insulin cost, as of January 17. Sanofi and Novo Nordisk will not comment until they go through the full report. Approximately 1.2 million American citizens suffer from Type 1 diabetes, a chronic metabolic condition in which the pancreas stops secreting insulin. On the other hand, Type 2 diabetes has been a growing issue, affecting nearly 30 million people in the U.S. While Type 2 diabetes can be treated with a variety of oral hypoglycemic agents (OHA), those patients may also ultimately need insulin if OHAs fail to work.