Crisis Point: Insulin Access in the United States

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Welcome back to Crisis Point. A special episode focuses on the issue of insulin accessibility and affordability in the United States, with four experts in the diabetes arena weighing in on the topic.

Welcome back to Crisis Point.

In a special episode of our mini-documentary series on public health crises, we place specific focus on the issue of insulin access in the United States for people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

The United States is home to the highest insulin prices in the world, with reported data indicating an average of $98.70 per vial across all forms of the drug.

Recent months have provided more fuel to the fire with the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act in August 2022. Behind the scenes moves were being made to lower the astronomical cost of the medication, due in part to advocacy and medical experts weighing in on the crucial conversation. In the end, the legislation will cap the cost of insulin at $35 per vial for Medicare Part D beneficiaries starting in 2023.

However, the measure to include all insured Americans in this cost reduction, particularly those with private insurance, was blocked. In fact, it fell just short of 60 votes, as 43 lawmakers opposed it. Top lawmakers in the Senate have indicated the proposal may be brought to another vote in the near future.

Thus, the crisis remains a waiting game. Some have been forced to ration their insulin, risking their health, and still, the solutions are seemingly just out of reach.

In this episode, a group of four experts in the diabetes arena parsed through the crisis at hand, the strengths and weaknesses of this new legislation, and whether proposed solutions, like biosimilars or insulin made at-cost, represent the deciding factor in deflating this pricing balloon.

Our 4 experts included:

  • Nicholas Chiu, MD, Resident Physician, BIDMC, Harvard Medical School
  • Irl B. Hirsch, MD, Professor of Medicine, University of Washington
  • Dhruv Kazi, MD, Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School
  • Aaron Kowalski, PhD, President, Chief Executive Officer, JDRF International

All seemed to agree on one thing: The cost of insulin and its availability to people with diabetes doesn’t have to be this way. This is HCPLive Crisis Point on insulin access in the United States.

If you enjoyed this episode, check out our previous episodes on the Obesity Crisis and Physician Burnout. Stay tuned for more from Crisis Point!