When Frederick Banting discovered Insulin in 1922, he never thought it’s prices would be as high as what is obtainable today.
Insulin is a vital drug that is needed for people living with diabetes to survive but the increasing prices have caused people to ration insulin doses and skip injections causing poor control of their blood sugar.
On Saturday, 9th of September, 2017, T1International, an advocacy group for people living with type 1 diabetes around the world and People of Faith for Access to Medicines (PFAM) along with other stakeholders led a demonstration in front of Eli Lilly and Company International corporate headquarters in downtown Indianapolis. The day for online action was September 8th, 2017.
“We spend more money on diabetes than on our house payments,” Indiana resident Erin Roberts said.
Mike Hoskins who was at the protest said on his blog that he was spending $700 per month to get 3 vials of insulin in 2015 and that was more than half of housing cost per month and he had to borrow from a friend.
Consumers of these products are frustrated and have come out in mass to express their feelings. Parents of children living with diabetes and other concerned persons participated in the protest. Some people lamented that they have to pick between buying their groceries and buying insulin.
The 3 main pharmaceutical companies producing insulin are Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi and they’ve continually increased the prices of insulin.
March 2017 saw another increase of Eli Lilly’s insulin product ; Humalog and Humilin by 7.8 percent.
Lilly is said to have raised the price of its version of insulin by over 300% over the past seven years. A U.S. patient’s out-of-pocket cost for a month’s supply of Eli Lilly’s Humalog can be over $400 (About 144,000 Naira).
In July 2017 it was reported that Lilly had a 35% increase in quarterly profits: $1+ billion, on $5.82 billion revenue. Though Eli Lilly recently started a patients assistance program when people complained about the costs, it is still grossly inadequate as only a small number of people would benefit.
Humalog has seen a 1123 percent increase in price since June 1996.
The insulin makers have also argued that its costs a great deal for advancements to produce new and better insulin.
An Eli Lilly spokesperson responded in an email saying, “We are pleased that people in the diabetes community are engaged in this issue, and demonstrations are one way to do so. It will take continued effort across the healthcare system to affect real change, and Lilly is committed to working with others to make it happen.”
People with diabetes are asking Eli Lilly for three things:
• Be transparent about how much it costs to make one vial of Humalog insulin
• Be transparent about your profits from each vial
• Lower the price of insulin
So many people are dying from diabetic ketoacidosis because they can’t afford insulin.
For a long time, Africa was thought to be safe from diseases called “diseases of affluence,” like diabetes which plague the Western world but this is now known to be false as there is an increasing statistic of people living with diabetes and this includes both rich and poor.
As at 2013, the Nigerian government was reportedly spending $500 million (78.5 million Naira at that time) on importation of insulin annually. Insulin access is still a major problem in developing countries too.
You can still lend a voice to the cause via social media.
Hashtag is #Insulin4all . You can get more information on Facebook and other social media sites.
SPONSORING ORGANIZATIONS OF THE DEMONSTRATION: