The Human Cost of Insulin For Iowans

Photograph of a nurse taking a blood sugar test from a patient

No matter where you live, what you look like or how much is in your wallet, everyone deserves access to affordable medicine, including basic prescriptions like insulin.

“I’m 75 years old and for the last 5 years I have had to go to work 6 days a week just to pay for insulin and other medications. I spend a lot of the year in the gap. I am now dealing with severe back and hip issues so it is a daily struggle to do this. Something must be done, but I have little hope that I will benefit, being in my waning years. I want Senator Ernst to stand up to the drug companies and actually help the people you represent. Do the right thing.”

Sharon, Des Moines, IA

We need our Senators Ernst and Grassley to be leaders and work with their colleagues to make sure this is a priority. Every lawmaker should be stepping up for their constituents and letting them know which side they are on when it comes to their friends, neighbors and constituents being priced out of their own survival

“My insulin, Humalog and Lantus, has doubled in price and now costs about $350 a month. Along with increase in supplementary Medicare insurance and drug insurance, I am paying about $800 a month. There is no way one can live on Social Security and pay these exorbitant prices. Without the help of my children I would not be alive since I am dependent on insulin. I always fall between the cracks for additional financial help. The pharmaceutical industry controls some of the Members of Congress and this is not right.”

Mary Rose, Iowa Falls, IA

Members of Congress and drug corporation executives cannot turn away from the moral imperative to lower insulin prices any longer. The time is now for politicians to stop protecting Big Pharma’s price-gouging and instead stand up for the millions of Americans who are struggling to afford insulin, a medicine that was invented in 1922 and yet is getting further and further out of reach for people today.

“Fortunately Medicare pays for my insulin, however when the prescription was filled in January it used up my entire deductible. I know there are many other people with diabetes forced to choose between buying groceries or Insulin.”

Gordon, Ottumwa, IA

Sometimes moral action and legislative activity converge: it’s wrong for massive drug corporations to keep jacking up profits at the expense of patients’ lives. Much of the drug research is paid for with our tax dollars, but then we pay again these outrageous prices. Congress must take bold action to make the system right.

“I am in the Medicare Part D coverage gap and I paid $900 out of pocket for a 3-month supply of Teojeo. I have reached out to Senators Ernst and Grassley repeatedly and unfortunately going to Canada seems to be the solution.”

Beth, Baxter, IA

“I am on two insulins a day. I live on Social Security and I cannot afford Tresiba after 3 months when I fall into donut hole. I have complained and asked for help, but nothing is happening”

Patricia, Council Bluffs, IA

The fact is that when it comes to medicines like insulin that have been around for a hundred years, the motive for raising prices is just plain old greed. People are forced to ration insulin, sometimes with devastating consequences, or they have to decide between life saving treatment and food or gas.

“I have to choose between food and gas to buy insulin. I have Medicare Part D and supplement prescription coverage. I live on social security and a small pension. When I fall into the gap I end up paying $420 a month for just one insulin, but I have to take 2. What can I do! I can’t understand at ALL how Novalog and other big pharmaceutical companies can get away with this!”

Mary, Waterloo, IA

While people with diabetes are facing fatal consequences of rationing insulin to save money as costs go up, our government is allowing wealthy pharmaceutical companies to profit off patient lives.

“I have been a Type I diabetic for 60 years. I had been on Humalog insulin for at least 17 years when I began using an insulin pump. Prior to that I was on Regular and NPH by injection. Medicare Blue Rx research manager MADE us change from Humalog to Novolog which raised the cost about 50% (no explanation was given for the change). I have no idea whether they also raised the price of Novolog at that time. I am fortunate that so far cost of insulin is not a hardship for me. However, it is totally unreasonable for pharmaceutical companies AND insurance companies to make more profit at the patient’s expense.”

Judy, Northern Iowa

The Trump administration’s Department of Health and Human Services is run Alex Azar — a former CEO of one of the most powerful companies in the industry who oversaw much of Eli Lilly’s recent price gouging, is now literally writing the rules for how the industry should behave.

To address this insulin crisis, Congress must take action by passing bold reforms that empower government to negotiate for lower drug prices, rein in Big Pharma’s monopoly power, direct public investments in prescription medicines in the service of public health–not just profit-seeking–and finally guarantee that every person can get affordable medicine when they need it.

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