Cost of Insulin in the U.S. Tripled in the Last Ten Years

First Posted: Apr 06, 2016 03:20 AM EDT

Around 29 million Americans, who are suffering from diabetes, are entirely dependent on insulin for their medication. Unfortunately, insulin is no longer inexpensive. People who heavily rely on this drug have witnessed how its crippling cost tripled in just a matter of ten years. The spending on insulin per individual is now significantly higher than the spending on all other diabetes treatments combined.

A study conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan and University of Melbourne in Australia revealed that the other diabetes drugs' price has remained either just the same or has even dropped as cited on Science Daily. The research urges the industry leaders to take into consideration not only the effects of these non-insulin therapies, but also their cost-effectiveness.

"In the United States, the more than three-fold increase in the cost of insulin over the past decade is alarming," expressed Dr. William Herman, the study's co-author and a diabetes care researcher. He believed that handling such huge costs in diabetes medications is already a big problem for patients. The increase may also deny many people access to the lifesaving medication.

"Although the newer, more expensive insulin analogs appear to have incremental benefits compared to older, less expensive insulin preparations, their premium price requires us to ask whether they are really necessary, and if so, for whom?" he further said.

A renowned professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health and of internal medicine at the Medical School, Dr. William Herman is an active member of the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation.

Drawing data from the federal Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, the research involved almost 28,000 diabetic patients receiving treatment as cited on Medical Daily. In general, one out of four patients used insulin in controlling their blood sugar while the other three simply took an oral medication. The study also revealed that a new injectable drug, which is intended to complement the oral medication, has been used by a small percentage of the participants.

The team strongly pronounces for further studies that will not only deepen our understanding of how the cost of diabetes drugs has significantly changed over the last ten years, but will also provide alternative solutions for the problem at hand. 

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