Rising cost of insulin a challenge to many diabetic Kansans


According the CDC, more than 30 million Americans have diabetes and seven million more people are undiagnosed. Being diabetic comes with many expenses which for some, includes the cost of insulin.

Katie Roggenbaum of Haysville is a wife and mother of three. She’s battled Type 1 diabetes for 34 years. The rising cost of insulin she says, is exorbitant.

Around six or seven years ago was when she remembers the jump in cost.

“I was buying the same insulin for $90 a vile. It’s now over $300 for a vile. The insulin hasn’t changed. It’s not a new formulation, there’s been no new research toward it, so there’s no good reason why it’s gone from $90 a vile to $340 a bottle,” Roggenbaum said.

Roggenbaum has insurance but pays around $560 a month for insulin before her deductible is met, which typically takes 8 to 10 months. After that, it’s $90 a month.

But being diabetic, she says, comes with a lot more costs than insulin alone. She buys pump supplies, glucose monitors, test strips, lancets, alcohol wipes, needles and many other items just to continue usage of the life-sustaining insulin. She also notes the many costs that come as a result of her compromised immune system from the Type 1 diabetes.

“It’s a constant reminder because I have this thing hooked up to me all the time, and I feel different than other people a lot of the time, but then to have that financial reminder, puts even more stress on you and stress raises your blood sugar, and you need more insulin. It’s this vicious cycle that just continues,” Roggenbaum said.

The “Big 3” insulin manufacturers are Denmark-based Novo Nordisk, US-based Eli Lilly and France-based Sanofi. Roggenbaum utilizes insulin from Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk. 

KSN reached out to both companies. 

A statement from Novo Nordisk said:

“We hear from more and more people living with diabetes about the challenges they face affording healthcare, including the medicines we make. It’s our firm belief that medicines should be accessible to all who need them. However, we recognize that to get this done we can’t do it alone. Pharmaceutical companies, PBMs, insurance companies, employers, patient organizations and policy makers working together will drive the change that’s needed.
For Novo Nordisk, price increases were our response to changes in the healthcare system, including a greater focus on cost savings, and trying to keep up with inflation. PBMs and payers have been asking for greater savings – as they should. However, as the rebates, discounts and price concessions got steeper, we were losing considerable revenue – revenue we use for R&D, sales and marketing, education, disease awareness activities and medical information support.  Our efforts attempted to offset these increased rebates, discounts and price concessions to maintain a profitable and sustainable business.
We currently offer several options for eligible patients including a Patient Assistance Program and co-pay cards, as well as participate in programs run by CVS Health and Express Scripts which make our Novolin line of insulins available for around $25 a vial. Wal-Mart offers the same insulin as Relion at the same price.
Anyone looking for information about affording their Novo Nordisk medicine can call 1-866-310-7549 or visit NovoCare.com.”

JDRF Wichita will host a “Type 1 talk” on Tuesday, September 4 at the Evergreen Branch Library. For more information, visit jdrf.org/wichita.

For additional information, on Novo Nordisk’s prescription assistance programs, click here

For information on Novo Nordisk’s commitment to affordability, click here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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