Nevadans visit legislature to support diabetes medication bill

Published: Apr. 20, 2017 at 1:32 AM PDT
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Nevadans from across the state visited the legislature showing their support for a bill that would fight increasing costs of a lifesaving drug.

Senate Bill 265 seeks to control the high cost of insulin for Nevadans who have diabetes.

Keyonna Lawrence is a single mother and she has been battling the disease for three years.

"I woke up spinning. My legs hurt and I'm barely moving," said Lawrence.

She and others affected by the disease showed their support for SB 265.

"I'm here because this fight is worth it to me. I need to understand why is the cost going up, going up and going up," said Lawrence.

The bill would require transparency on insulin drugs. How prices are set, including the cost of diabetes medication, and the amount is spent on marketing and research. Senator Yvanna Cancela is one of the sponsors of the bill.

"When you have more transparency the costs go down. When consumers have more information about how cost is set, they are able to make better decisions," said Cancela, (D) Senate District 10.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) reports more than 280,000 Nevadans have diabetes, while nearly 800,000 Nevadans battle pre-diabetes. Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford is one of them.

"Diabetes has become one of the largest public health crisis of our time. The medication to treat this disease must be affordable and accessible," said Ford (D), Senate Majority Leader.

Prices for the drug have increased over the past two decades. The ADA estimates diabetes cost Nevadans $2.4 billion each year. Those rising costs mean less money for Lawrence, who says from time to time she must choose between her medication and feeding her son.

"These are the things we need to stay alive. If I don't get it, then my end result is ashes ashes dust to dust," said Lawrence.

Ford says the Senate Democratic Caucus is unified in a search for a solution.

The main opponent of this legislation is pharmaceutical companies.