Why Are Diabetes Products So Expensive in the U.S.?

Diabetes concept with insulin, syringe, vials, pills, and stethoscope

Amidst all of the current controversy over the state of our nations health care, one thing hasn’t changed. Receiving good health care is expensive. Especially if you have diabetes.

As if living with this disease isn’t difficult enough, the diabetes products sold in the US are outrageously expensive. In fact, diabetes is the most expensive health condition in the US.

Globally speaking, diabetes costs us $825 billion dollars annually. So let’s take a look at why diabetes products are so expensive and what we can do about it.

The History of Diabetes Products

In 1921, a group of scientists and researchers in Toronto, Canada discovered insulin. Realizing the potential to change diabetes into a manageable disease rather than a death sentence, they decided not to profit from their discovery.

Shocking, right? Instead, they sold their patent to the University of Toronto for $1 per person. The total sum of their profits? Three dollars. They did that because they thought it would prevent companies from creating monopolies and profiting off the health of others.

Cut to 2017 and those same scientists would be shaking their heads with sadness. Because insulin was taken over by the pharmaceutical companies.

In 1997 a pharmaceutical company charged $17 per vial. Today that same vial now costs $138. Another charged $21 for a vial that now costs a whopping $255.

What changed? After 75 years, the original patent expired. That opened the door to pharmaceutical companies developing improvements to insulin. Therefore, new patents were generated along with huge profits.

Why Big Pharma Keeps Prices High

Pharmaceutical companies feel that the steps they are taking are completely necessary. Older medication prices are kept high so they can afford the research and development necessary for newer and better drugs.

But it’s not just the insulin that makes suffering with diabetes so expensive. There are other products needed to care for yourself, like:

  • Syringes
  • Pumps
  • Needs
  • Blood-sugar sensors
  • Blood-sugar monitors
  • alcohol swabs

And according to the American Diabetes Association, the average yearly cost for someone diagnosed with diabetes is $13,700.

Usually, competition in a market place lowers prices, but not in this case. In 1982, Eli Lilly created Humulin. It was inexpensive to manufacture and vast amounts could be made to help people suffering from diabetes.

But in 1991, Novo Nordisk started producing their own diabetes products. And yet, prices began to rise rather than lower. In fact, within the last 2 decades, prices for insulin have risen prices 450 percent above inflation, with both companies closely in sync.

Are The Newer Drugs Worth It?

The bottom line is that the focus is less on patients and health and more on patents and profits for pharmaceutical companies. Many of the new drugs on the market are extremely expensive.

But the benefits from these new drugs over the older medications are marginal, at best. Yet 6 million people in the US depend on these drugs to keep them alive and healthy. Not paying because of the price simply isn’t an option for them.

While those with excellent health care coverage may not realize it, the cost of insulin is rising dramatically. But those who experience gaps in coverage, have bare-bones coverage or break or lose a vial realize how expensive diabetes products are.

For those who don’t have the best health care coverage, it’s important to help yourself offset the high costs associated with diabetes. We’re a prescription drug discount program designed to help you reduce your medical prescription costs. Best of all, it’s free so sign up today.

Find your prescription card and start saving today!