Researchers from the University of Michigan Health System discovered a worrying trend for those who live with diabetes. According to their report, insulin costs have increased with nearly 200 percent between 2002 and 2013.
Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the findings also showed that the hormone insulin had a greater total spending in 2013 than all other drugs.
Diabetes patients need daily shots of insulin to compensate for the fact that their bodies either produce too little or not at all.
The increase in the cost of this treatment may have a lot to do with the recent introduction of analog insulins; while this new type of insulin has proved better for some patients, it is also significantly more costly.
Researchers based their findings on medical spending in the United States on insulin between 2002 and 2013 for 27,878 diabetes patients. Over that span, the price had increased from $4.34 to $12.92 per ml.
There was also a spike in the total amount of insulin being used by patients, jumping from 171 to 206 ml. During the same period, the average spending on insulin per patient increased from $231.48 to $736.09, which put the cost of insulin higher than per-patient spending combined on other diabetes drugs, which was estimated at $502.57 in 2013.
It’s also less likely for the price of insulin to decline, especially because of how much it costs to put the products on the shelves.
William Herman, M.D., MPH, the co-author of the report and a longtime diabetes care researcher, explained “the more than 3-fold increase in the United States of the cost of insulin over the past decade is alarming.”
Not only is it a burden on patients, but it may also prevent some people from being able to benefit from a lifesaving therapy. A lot of patients may be unable to pay more out of the pockets, which will eventually have an impact on the way they manage their disease.
Even though the new insulin analogs were proved to have incremental benefits compared to older, their premium price limits their use to only a portion of patients.
According to study senior author Philip Clarke, Ph.D., a professor in Melbourne’s School of Population and Global Health and Centre for Health Policy, the report shows just how quickly things change.
He also highlighted the importance of focusing on the costs as well as the benefits when drug manufacturers release new treatment alternatives for people with diabetes.
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