My name is Marcus LaCour and I’m a husband, father, and minister from Cincinnati, Ohio. In 2000, during my sophomore year of high school, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
After feeling lethargic and having blurry vision, I went to the hospital for what doctors thought was just a viral infection. When they checked, my blood sugar was pushing 900. Had they sent me home that day, I wouldn’t have made it another night.
Since my diagnosis, insulin has helped to keep my diabetes under control. But struggling to get my insulin has also become a pattern in my life. In college, I was constantly deciding between buying my insulin or getting the materials I needed for school. My grades suffered and my A1C took a hit.
While between jobs, I have been unable to afford my insulin altogether. I have been forced to rely on samples from my doctor, ration my insulin, or simply go without. In one of my hardest times, I was rationing my insulin while my wife skipped meals to help pay for it. Being in that position made me feel helpless, angry, and frustrated.
I am lucky — I am in a much better place right now and can afford my insulin. But I’m tired of worrying about what would happen to my family if I lost my job or had to change insurance. I’m tired of reading stories about someone passing away because they couldn’t afford the medication they need to survive.
Every time advocates like me talk about the need for lower drug prices, drug companies claim that any efforts to make drugs more affordable will harm innovation.
Believe me, I understand concerns about stifling innovation. If anyone understands how life-changing new medicines can be, it’s patients like me. For people with diabetes, research and innovation is deeply important to improving our care and potentially even finding a cure. But the truth is, over the last 20 years Lantus’s price has risen by 735 percent –– but we haven’t seen any improvements to the insulin since 2001.
Despite entering the market twenty years ago with a price of $34, Sanofi has hiked the price of Lantus 27 times. It now costs $284 and Sanofi makes $15 million a day selling it.
I’m thankful I have insulin to help keep me alive, but it is worthless if we cannot afford it. Right now millions of patients aren’t able to afford their drugs, while drug companies celebrate annual profit margins higher than almost all other industries’. Drug prices can come down without sacrificing innovation.
We must find a balance between innovation and affordability, and patients like me can’t wait any longer for change. We need action now.