Local organizations take action in wake of rising insulin prices

Published: Nov. 30, 2016 at 5:48 PM PST
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Diabetics across the country are struggling with rising insulin prices.

"So in 1992, you could walk into a pharmacy, didn't need a prescription, walk out with a vile of insulin, it was like 5 dollars," Nevada Diabetes Association Executive Director Sarah Gleich said.

That is no longer the case.

“The cost of insulin has definitely skyrocketed. Usually, a vile of insulin, and that's long-acting or short-acting depending on what you take, can go anywhere from 450 (dollars), but we're seeing costs up to 750 (dollars) right now," Gleich said.

Sometimes insurance will cover these prices – but not always.

"A lot of people are falling into the situation that they cannot pay for it, and insulin is the one medication, if you do not have, you will die," Gleich said.

Location organizations like the Nevada Diabetes Association are taking action.

Some patients only get a certain amount of money per year to cover prescriptions from insurance. Toward the end of the year, that money can run out. Rather than have to pay out of pocket for insulin, the Nevada Diabetes Association helps bridge that gap for patients.

"We will pay for your medications through the pharmacies that we use here in town, get you through that loophole, and then hopefully get you back on your feet by the end of the year," Gleich said. This loophole applies to Medicare patients.

CARE Chest of Sierra Nevada helps out too.

"We provide up to a hundred dollars a year in prescription assistance for diabetes medications and we provide diabetic testing supplies that are available monthly," CARE Chest Development Director Peter Stanton said.

Stanton said some patients CARE Chest assists are misusing their products because prices are too high.

"We're seeing a lot of people that are trying to reduce the amount of insulin they're using, or the number of times they're testing,” Stanton said. That is just not doable for a lot of folks with diabetes."

Those fed up with these prices are looking to do something about it.

"I think we need pieces of legislation, I think we need to be powerful, go and sign things and say, 'hey, our voices need to be heard.' This is crazy,” Gleich said.

Until then, insulin prices are only expected to rise.

The American Diabetes Association started a petition with the goal of making insulin affordable to all patients. To access that petition, follow this link: