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Op-Ed: State Must Address High Cost of Insulin

 

The high cost of insulin was a hot topic during a recent Banking and Insurance Interim Committee meeting this summer. 

We heard testimony from diabetic patients as well as representatives of the Volunteer Leadership Council on National Diabetes. The bottom line is that the cost of life-saving insulin has skyrocketed to nearly $300 per vial, rendering it unaffordable for many patients.

In less than a decade, co-pays for insulin have gone from $35 per month to over $400. Major insulin-producing pharmaceutical companies have raised the price of insulin at least ten times since 2008. Uninsured, underinsured and those with high deductibles are bearing the expensive cost of insulin which is causing serious consequences.

The rate of diabetes is on the rise; and impacts a significant number of children. We heard testimony from a 48-year-old social worker who can no longer afford her insulin, so she began diluting the dosage, rationing it to make her supply of insulin last longer. She did this for years and as a result, medical complications have caused neuropathy and Charcot.  She suffered a leg amputation as a direct result of inadequate insulin medication.

More than 15 percent of adults (500,000) in Kentucky have diabetes and the numbers are increasing. Diabetic patients have come to the General Assembly several times to ask for drug price transparency legislation and to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable. 

This summer, Attorney General Andy Beshear filed a lawsuit against the major manufacturers of insulin. His lawsuit alleges that the corporations have “greedily increased their product’s prices over the last 20 years.” Families are resorting to illegally ordering and purchasing insulin across our borders where the cost is ten times cheaper. 

When the General Assembly convenes in January, 2020, I look forward to introducing legislation that will address the insulin crisis.

State Rep. Dennis Keene is a Democrat from Wilder. His 67th House District includes the cities of northern Campbell County