My story starts 47 years ago when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Diabetes is an auto-immune disorder. Because of this disorder, my body depends on insulin. Without it, I would die.
Throughout my life as a diabetic, I have seen the invention of home glucose meters, insulin pumps, more effective insulin, continuous glucose monitors, and many other new and advancing treatment options for type 1 diabetics. I am also very privileged to have used all these options, which has allowed me to be complication free and in good health. My health and complication free life is only achievable due to the ability to constantly monitor and control my blood sugar, which comes at a very high price.
When I was first diagnosed, in 1972, my insulin cost me about $1.00 per bottle. In 1996, when the current formula of insulin became commercially available, the cost was about $25 per bottle.
Today, a single bottle of insulin can cost around $350, and for those who need four to five vials a month, that could mean paying up to $1,750 a month for the medication they need to stay alive.
The cost of the four most popular types of insulin has tripled over the past decade. Eli Lily’s top selling drug, Humalog, rose from $35 to $234 between 2001 and 2015 — an eye-popping 569 percent increase.
Many diabetics are rationing their insulin, skipping meals or begging their doctors for more sample vials. One out of every four diabetics is forced to lower or skip their insulin doses because of these costs. Imagine being a mother or father and telling your child to take less of their life saving medicine because you are unable to afford it. Imagine knowing that every month you need to make the decision between paying rent or taking your medication. These choices are being normalized by pharmaceutical companies and politicians who are not working quickly or efficiently to lower the cost of insulin and other drugs.
We need our representatives to do something about these astronomical drug costs. House Democrats have proposed a bill, H.R. 3, that would actually lower costs by allowing Medicare to negotiate on behalf of all Americans for lower prices of insulin and other drugs.
Senator Gardner, who has not held a town hall in almost two years, should answer for his votes and policies. He cannot continue to hide while his constituents are strapped with exorbitant medical bills and forced to make fatal rationing decisions.
Not only has Gardner done nothing on drug prices but he also repeatedly voted to overturn the Affordable Care Act, which has given millions of Americans with preexisting health conditions affordable and reliable healthcare. Gardner still wants to repeal the ACA. At a Colorado Chamber of Commerce event earlier this month, Gardner “blasted the Affordable Care Act” and “reiterated his desire to repeal the Affordable Care Act.” Additionally, this week Gardner will vote on the Trump administration’s promotion of junk insurance plans that can “refuse to cover people with pre-existing conditions.” Gardner has previously supported similar efforts to gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions, despite empty promises otherwise.
Join me in holding our elected officials and pharmaceutical companies accountable and unapologetically telling our truths about not being able to afford the surging cost of insulin, a necessity in the lives of all type 1 diabetic patients. We will not stop calling on our representatives to protect Colorado’s health care. We will not stop asking them to support real solutions to lower drug prices. We will not stop pushing for affordable insulin.
There is no time to wait.
We need affordable insulin — NOW.