'We don't have a choice. We buy it, or we die' Local woman speaks out on rising insulin prices

The price of insulin diabetics need to keep them alive continues to rise. This can lead to risky behavior by diabetics to save money.

Posted: Nov 28, 2018 6:26 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - The price of insulin diabetics need to keep them alive continues to rise. This can lead to risky behavior by diabetics to save money.

What's supposed to be "the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" is often most stressful for mother Alex Harvey.

She explains, "It was Christmas of 2015 when the doctors told my kids, 'You need to may say goodbye to mommy.'"

Harvey was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes late in life. From that she's had many complications, and has spent years trying to learn her body. On top of that, she's faced what she calls the "silent war" against diabetics.

Harvey shares, "You do the best you can to manage what you think you're going to need and the pricing that you're going to need. But just like this morning, go to buy insulin, and it's doubled in price since last month. So it's like, whereas I thought I was going to be able to afford it, now I'm in panic mode."

The average list price of insulin has nearly tripled in recent years. This has caused diabetics like Harvey to make some tough calls.

Harvey explains, "I'm supposed to change my test site once every 3 days. I sometimes have to you know, put as much insulin as I can in there and make it last 6-7 days sometimes with the same pump site. Even though it's a big no-no."

Harvey also tests her blood sugar about half the times she's supposed to daily to save on test strips. That’s not to mention a common move among diabetics, rationing insulin.

She shares, "It’s a guessing game on, you know, 'How much can I use this day? Because is tomorrow going to be worse? Or is tomorrow going to be better?' It's like, I shouldn't have to sit there at the end of the day and be like, 'Woohoo, I barely had to take any insulin so I have it for tomorrow."

So as Christmas approaches, Harvey will continue to juggle spending for diabetic supplies and trying to put presents under the tree. When all her daughter is asking Santa for, is:

"'For someone to take my mom's diabetes away,’” she said.

The American Diabetes Association working group put together a report about why the prices have increased. One factor they pointed to was a broken system of many transactions between wholesalers, pharmacies, and manufacturers.

Harvey says, "The prices juggle themselves that much, and that's why it's hard for any diabetic whether you have insurance or not, to know if you can afford it. "

The bottom line? Keep talking about this issue, and talk to your lawmakers. They're the ones who can create or adjust policy so the system will work for you again.

The ADA offers some tips and resources for people having issues affording their prescriptions. To view those, click here.

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