Imagine a liquid that is ounce for ounce worth more than liquid gold. Now imagine that this liquid is needed to keep someone alive on a day-to-day basis.
This liquid is insulin. Insulin is a hormone created in the pancreas. Insulin is absolutely necessary for life. In 2018 a study was conducted into the cost of artificial insulin production. This insulin at most costs $6.16 to manufacture. Commercially it costs on average 100-300 dollars per vial. These abhorrent prices drive people out of house and home and leave them penniless. If you’re sitting there thinking to yourself, “These prices are absurd”, that’s because they are. Another study from the National Library of Medicine shows the price difference between the US and Canada, stating “the US spent $28 billion (USD) on insulin compared with $484 million in Canada. The average American insulin user spent $3490 on insulin in 2018 compared with $725 among Canadians. Over the study period, the average cost per unit of insulin in the United States increased by 10.3% compared with only 0.01% in Canada.”
While politicians may bring up insulin prices once a lancet change, people tend to forget that there are actual people behind the prices, and there are actual consequences for these people. Josh Wilkerson was a young 27-year-old man with a bright future ahead of him. But when insulin prices got too high he was forced to switch to a cheaper, and less trustworthy version of insulin to support his family. This insulin sent him into shock which ended up being fatal. This comes from a FOX 5 report.
Now luckily, my insurance covers the price of my insulin. Unfortunately, many of the over 1 million type-1 diabetics in the United States are not as privileged as me. But, there is hope with nonprofits such as JDRF helping new diabetics. There is also Civica Inc. which is creating affordable insulin, but for the time being, this insulin is unrefined and hard to control. This is all being done with the support of the co-inventor of synthetic insulin, Frederick Banting, as he said “Insulin does not belong to me, it belongs to the world.” I hope one day Mr. Banting will finally get his wish.