|WASHINGTON, D.C. — With research showing that patients with diabetes have a higher mortality rate and are more likely to experience complications from COVID-19, Patients For Affordable Drugs and 63 people living with diabetes penned a letter to the Big 3 insulin manufacturers urging them to take action to lower the list prices of their insulin products immediately. People with diabetes are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 — both to the virus and to economic hardship that makes affording insulin a challenge. Insulin prices are high and only increasing, with manufacturers tripling the price over the last decade. As people with diabetes face loss of jobs and their associated health insurance coverage, they will be forced to face astronomically high list prices for insulin with little-to-no safety net.
“The high price and inaccessibility of insulin is already a crisis in this country given that you’ve tripled the list price since 2009,” the letter asserts. “The current COVID-19 pandemic poses a critical threat to the physical and financial well being of the diabetes community. Without action from your three companies, people like us could find ourselves and our loved ones in grave danger.”
One in four patients with diabetes reported rationing their insulin due to lack of affordability. Since the onset of COVID-19, health experts have urged patients with diabetes to stock up on two to three months worth of medications, including insulin. For many patients, that is simply impossible due to the cost of insulin. And given the significant economic decline, thousands of people living with diabetes will likely lose their jobs and their health insurance. Without health insurance, patients may be forced to pay out of pocket for insulin or ration doses which can lead to hospitalization and even death.
“For me and other diabetics, insulin is like water — we need it to survive,” said Lauren Stanford, who lives with type 1 diabetes and serves as Community Organizing Director for Patients For Affordable Drugs. “Even without a pandemic, people with diabetes struggle to afford the high price set by insulin manufacturers. In this time of health and economic instability, it is even more imperative that manufacturers make insulin affordable for all of us. We need them to do the right thing.”
Patients For Affordable Drugs is the only independent national patient organization focused exclusively on achieving policy changes to lower the price of prescription drugs. A non-profit organization, it was founded by David Mitchell, a patient who is completely reliant on expensive drugs to fight an incurable blood cancer and his wife, Nicole Mitchell, a breast cancer survivor. Patients For Affordable Drugs does not accept contributions from any organizations that profit from the development or distribution of prescription drugs.
Read the letter here.