My name is Clayton McCook, and I’m a dad and an equine veterinarian from Oklahoma. My 12-year-old daughter Lily McCook could die within days of complications from type 1 diabetes without insulin. A vial of Novolog by the drugmaker Novo Nordisk costs $340, and she needs up to two per month to survive.
My wife, Cindy, is a breast cancer survivor who quit working during the pandemic to help educate Lily and her sister at home. I’ve been lucky to keep my job during such an uncertain time for the country.
But I worry all the time about how Lily will afford this drug for the rest of her life. The price has only gone one way — up.
When our lawmakers talk about lowering drug prices, drugmakers like to scare us all into thinking we won’t get the innovative drugs we need if prices go down.
That’s a particularly offensive lie for the members of the diabetes community. The original version of the drug was introduced 100 years ago by inventors who refused to put their names on the patents because they believed it should be a public good. The more modern version my daughter uses has been around since I was in high school — and I’m 43. It only costs between $3.69 and $6.16 to make a single vial of the most commonly used analog insulins. Yet drugmakers charge an obscene price of around $300 a vial. The three drug makers that vastly control the world’s insulin supply have raised the prices in lockstep, the price of insulin nearly doubled between 2012 and 2016, and one in four Americans have been rationing the drug during the pandemic.
As Lily gets older, and I can’t take care of her, why does her health and frankly her life have to be put on the line just so pharma can turn massive profits?
There is a middle ground. It is absolutely possible to pass reforms that make room for both innovation and lower drug prices so people like my daughter will always be able to afford the prescription drugs she needs to stay alive.