June 19, 2019 Blogs

Insulin affordability is a crisis.

My name is Kelly Smith, I’m 49 years old, and I live with type 1 diabetes, an incurable condition that requires lifelong treatment. I was diagnosed at 15, when insulin cost about $12 per shot. Now, I take the insulin drug Novolog by Novo Nordisk. This insulin works much better than a previous brand, but it means I have to pay $315 per bottle. In order to properly regulate my diabetes, I need three bottles a month. Without this insulin, people like me, who suffer from type 1 diabetes, could die within days.

I am a self-employed delivery driver, and I can’t afford insurance coverage, so I have to go without. That has meant I have to find innovative ways to gain access to the drugs I need just to survive. I ration my medication and buy expired or leftover insulin. That means I’m not getting the proper care that I need to control my diabetes. This can lead to further complications — including blindness and the loss of limbs — lower quality of life, and in some cases, death.

The price of insulin has skyrocketed in the last decade. The big pharmaceutical companies that control 90 percent of the insulin market have raised prices by as much as 1000 percent in the last decade. For someone like me who needs a steady supply of insulin, the costs can be overwhelming. Getting insulin becomes a matter of life and death, and I think about it constantly. Insulin affordability is a crisis that must be addressed to prevent unnecessary suffering and give hope to the millions of Americans who rely on it for their survival.


Patients For Affordable Drugs is the only independent national patient organization focused exclusively on achieving policy changes to lower the price of prescription drugs.