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Why is Insulin So Expensive?

If you or a loved one have diabetes, you are likely more than aware of how expensive insulin is.

One vial of insulin can cost hundreds of dollars in the US, around eight times more expensive than it is in any other wealthy country. The price of insulin easily adds up to thousands of dollars per year, making many wonder: why does insulin cost so much in the US?

Read on to learn why insulin is so expensive and how you can save money when purchasing it.

The Importance of Insulin

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that is essential in regulating the body’s blood sugar levels. Without insulin, your body would not be able to manage the amount of glucose that enters your cells, leading to blood sugar levels that are either too high or too low.

Improper blood sugar levels can have a severe impact on a person’s health.

If a person’s blood sugar falls too low, it can cause confusion, abnormal behavior, visual disturbances, seizures, and loss of consciousness.

If someone’s blood sugar levels are high for a prolonged period of time, there is an increased risk of:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Nerve damage
  • Kidney damage or failure
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Cataracts
  • Bone and joint problems
  • Infected teeth and gums

Worst case scenario, extreme or prolonged high blood sugar levels can lead to developing diabetic ketoacidosis or going into a hyperglycemic hyperosmolar state. If left untreated, either of these conditions can be life-threatening or cause a diabetic coma.

Who Needs Insulin?

A person may need an insulin prescription if they have been diagnosed with diabetes.

Those with type 1 diabetes are unable to produce insulin. Without insulin, their blood sugar levels are unstable and can dramatically rise and dip depending on what and how much they eat.

Those with type 2 diabetes can produce insulin, but their bodies have become insulin-resistant. Some type 2 diabetics may need insulin to manage their symptoms. Others may be able to manage their symptoms through diet, exercise, and perhaps medication.

Insulin-dependent type 2 diabetics may need multiple types of insulin to manage their symptoms, such as a slow-acting and fast-acting type of insulin.

Why is Insulin so Expensive?

Over the years, the cost of insulin in the US has steadily increased to be triple its original price. In fact, it is eight times more expensive in the US than in any other wealthy country.

While there have been initiatives to lower insulin costs in many states, making insulin affordable for everyone is still a work in process. For example, state initiatives for price caps only apply to people who have insurance.

Without insurance, one vial of insulin can cost $175 to $250 in the US, depending on your state and the brand you are using. Many diabetics need multiple vials per month, easily putting the price of insulin in the thousands per year.

Lack of Company Competition

Ninety percent of the global insulin market is split between three companies.

Many countries receive their supply of insulin from just one of these major companies. When this occurs, the company has little to no competition and can set prices as high as they like.

If a country has domestic insulin companies, it can help lower the price of insulin in that country. The issue is, it is legal for an insulin producer to pay a potential competitor to not enter the market for a specific amount of time through a pay-for-delay agreement.

Even if a domestic insulin company refuses a pay-for-delay, one of three main companies can just sue the domestic company. This often will push the domestic insulin producer out of the market because of expensive legal fees and wasted time.

Plus, the main three insulin companies have a multitude of patents on their insulin products. While a patent in the US is typically twenty years, these insulin companies are extending the patents on their products through certain loopholes in the US patent system.

No Generic Insulin

Insulin, unlike many other prescriptions available on the market, is a biologic. Biologics cannot be chemically synthesized, so it is more difficult and expensive to make the equivalent of a generic version, known as a biosimilar.

The process of making biosimilar insulin would cost almost as much as making a new drug. It would also have to go through the same approval stages and trials that a new drug would go through.

This provides little market incentive to make new biosimilar insulins, especially with pay-for-delay agreements.

Saving Money on Insulin

Using an online pharmacy is one of the best ways to save money on insulin.

You can purchase insulin online through a Canadian pharmacy, which offers safe, reliable, and effective medications at a fraction of the cost. Canada has stricter regulations on pharmaceutical prices and sets price caps based on what the rest of the world is charging.

This helps prevent price gouging in the pharmaceutical industry, ensuring the cost of medication is more affordable.

Using an Online Pharmacy

If you need a life-saving medication, it should be affordable.

Purchasing insulin should not break the bank, and it doesn’t have to.

Through a safe, reliable online pharmacy, you can get your insulin at a cheaper price. Your prescription will be reviewed by qualified pharmacists, then delivered directly to your door for your convenience.

Check out our website today to learn more about how we can help you secure cheap medications for your Diabetes.

Works Cited

Insulin began saving lives a century ago. Why is it still so unaffordable?

How Much Does Insulin Cost Online?