Insulin prices have tripled in recent years, forcing families to make drastic choices when purchasing the lifesaving medication, including one local woman who has resorted to purchasing insulin on Craigslist.
A recent study from Yale University found 1 in 4 patients admitted to cutting back and rationing their insulin because of the hike in prices.
More than 700,000 people in North Texas have been diagnosed with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association of North Texas. The price for insulin has tripled since 2003.
Some families in North Texas are bypassing the pharmacy and going overseas, starting GoFundMe campaigns, swapping ideas and methods to buy insulin through Facebook groups and purchasing insulin on the black market through websites like Craigslist.
“When you’re down to your last vial, you get into survival mode," said mom Katrina Lewis, who was diagnosed with diabetes when she was 6 years old. “I am used to taking my insulin, checking my blood sugar level, and having insurance to pay for medicine."
Recently the new mom transitioned into a new job and there was a gap of time where she was left without insurance.
“I remember going to the pharmacy with my prescription and trying to get my insulin and I was told one pen was more than $400. I didn’t know my insurance had not kicked in yet," Lewis said. "I need two pens a month. The bill would have been close to $1,000 out of pocket. I just didn’t have it."
She searched online for other options and found the insulin pens that she needed on Craigslist. She knew the option was risky, but felt that she did not have another choice.
“You have to have insulin to survive, so you have to get creative. I met this woman at a gas station, and she sold it to me right then and there. And you’re just grateful at the time," Lewis said. "I made sure everything was wrapped up and everything was sealed and I checked the expiration date, but you’re so thankful and so happy just to have it at that point."
Currently, insulin does not have a generic brand. Lawmakers are pushing to regulate drug companies. The American Diabetes Association has started a petition fighting for affordable insulin prices.
“This is not a medication that we can live without, insulin is like oxygen. We need it to live. Right now, companies are putting profit before the lives of people," Lewis said. "The insurance companies and the drug companies definitely need to work together to bring the cost down. You should not have people dying because they cannot afford their medication."
For more information on diabetes and the petition from the American Diabetes Association click here.