A few days ago in Facebook, I posted a link to an article about the rising costs of EpiPens. A T1 friend of mine commented that link that she is pretty much “done” because of the price of insulin. Yesterday, several people posted an article about the rising costs of insulin. My friend shared that link and stated that she can’t afford to stay alive. I told her to promise me that she would go to the hospital when she runs out of insulin.
She sent me a PM that I am sharing here:
Kelly, my life is basically over. I’m coming up on my first bday with out my mom. I have no family. No friends here. I work a job helping others and get shit on for it. I’m not saying I am suicidal, I’m saying I am exhausted, tired, burnt out. I get no help. I never thought that I would be in this position with my insulin. I was the earliest person who went on a insulin pump. I was also the earliest to be put on Humalog when it came out. Nobody in the doc cares. You have a blog, so you have a voice. I’ve talked with people on line about shaking the doc and insulin companies awake and nobody wants to do so, they told me that they are more at ease with begin complacent and apathetic. How sad.
My friend has a job with insurance. However, she has a very high deductible and has to pay 100% of the cost until she meets the deductible. She is out of money and her doctor doesn’t have any samples to give her. I know samples seem to be drying up – my doctor isn’t getting them anymore either. Because she is working, she makes too much money to qualify for any of the prescription assistance programs. She was an only child and both of her parents have died. She has no family to help her.
She is well aware that she can go to WalMart and buy NPH and Regular insulin. The problem with that option is that because of the nature of her job, if she starts having a ton of lows, she will lose her job. If she loses her job, she won’t have the money to buy the “cheap” insulin.
She has been diabetic for over 40 years and is complication free. She is literally up sh*t creek without a paddle.
Even though I told her to go to the hospital, that certainly is not a long-term plan. She needs insulin on a daily basis to stay alive. Since the price for insulin has skyrocketed, will the hospital send her home with enough to last for a month? If she has to go to the hospital on a daily basis to get insulin, she will lose her job. Technically, the hospital has to help her but we have all heard the stories of people dying in the waiting room because of sitting there for hours.
We aren’t some third world country that doesn’t have access to drugs and medical care. Why are people dying because the evil pharmaceutical companies want to keep upping their bottom line. We are not talking some brand new drug that she needs access to. Humalog came out in 1996; Novolog in 2000, Apidra in 2004; Lantus in 2000 and Levemir in 2005. Every one of those have been on the market for at least 10 years. And I don’t buy the “they are working on new drugs” crap. Yes, it would be nice to have better insulins but NOT if the price is to kill off all the people that can’t afford to pay the extravagant prices of the current insulins.
I saw the EpiPen article in an allergy group. One woman said that she went to get her daughter’s prescription filled. She has insurance but it won’t cover EpiPens. When it rang up as $400, she questioned the price because the month before, it was $200 for her other daughter’s prescription. The pharmacist was going to look into it and she said that she would come back the next day to get it. The price went up another $200 and she had to pay $600.
Obviously, having insurance doesn’t mean that you will get the basic care that you need to stay alive. No one should have to face death because they don’t have the money to buy a drug that has kept them alive for over 40 years and now is out of reach. There are at least two drugs (insulin and EpiPens) that are now out of reach for a lot of people. Where do we draw the line? How many people have to die before we do something?