WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — An effort to cut down on the hundreds some diabetic patients spend on insulin each month. The Kansas Attorney General filed a lawsuit claiming manufacturers and pharmacy benefit managers are violating the Kansas Consumer Protection Act.
Marty Smith found out they had type 1 diabetes at the age of 9.
Smith said it has been difficult some days when it comes to getting the insulin they need to live.
“My allowance went to a big one-pound bag of M&Ms, and I would hide it,” said Smith.
Smith said it was hard finding out about their diabetes diagnosis so young.
“When my mom explained to me that it would kill me, I would give it to my dad and say here you go,” said Smith.
Smith said they are trying to eat better and live a healthier lifestyle now.
Belinda Childs, a nurse specialist and executive director with Great Plains Diabetes Center, said the cost of insulin has increased over the past five to 10 years.
It can be difficult for many to afford it, some even resulting in rationing their insulin.
“Another issue is there aren’t good generics available, and the legislation the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has prevented manufacturers from bringing generics to the market,” said Childs.
Smith relied on Walmart’s $20 insulin for some time before getting insurance. But with the alcohol pads and syringes, it totaled out to $70 a month.
“I really didn’t have it, but I had to have it,” said Smith.
Now, Smith has insurance but said without it, the cost could be over $500.
“I was like, ‘Oh my god, what would I do if I didn’t have this,'” said Smith.
There are options for patients, such as patient assistance programs or resources through JDRF, a global nonprofit dedicated to funding type 1 diabetes research.
But it can take a lot of time for health professionals to make sure people are getting what they need. Without it, many will get sick or have complications that can lead to death.
“There should be a maximum out-of-pocket cost for folks, whether that is through lawsuits or whether that is through good common sense. We will see what happens,” said Childs.
For Medicare patients, some relief is coming. Starting Jan. 1, if they choose a specific plan, insulin will be capped at $35.
JDRF is working with legislators to try and bring a cap for others to make insulin more affordable overall.