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Jul 05

Insulin Prices Skyrocket

insulin shot for diabetesIf you follow the news, you may have recently read or heard about the cost of insulin. Our blog is not about economics or politics, but physicians do have an interest in drug costs.  The doctor who discovered insulin refused to put his name on the patent, feeling that it would be unethical to profit from a discovery that would save lives. His co-inventors sold the insulin patent to the University of Toronto for $1, wanting everyone who needed the medication to be able to afford it.

Five years ago, an article in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, made this observation:

“In the 1990s, Medicaid reimbursed pharmacies between $2.36 and $4.43 per NDC unit (1 mL) of insulin. By 2014, this figure increased to $9.64 per unit for short-acting and $9.24 per unit for intermediate insulins. For premixed insulins, the rate in 2014 was $14.79 per unit.”

In economics there is a concept called, “elasticity.” Elasticity is the response of demand to price. If the cost of tomatoes went to $10 a pound, most people would stop consuming them. The demand for tomatoes is very elastic, but for insulin this is not true. As the cost has risen, so has the demand. Why?

Put simply, it is often a matter of life and death. You can do without tomatoes, but a diabetic cannot give up insulin. According to the American Diabetes Association, there are more than 30 million Americans with diabetes, a disease that costs the U.S. more than $327 billion per year. That is about one third of a TRILLION dollars!  For many patients, these costs make the economic case for bariatric surgery.

Weight loss surgery may seem costly in the short term, but over a few years, it will save money as well as lives. Please take time to investigate the AdventHealth weight control program found at Bariatric and Weight Care at AdventHealth.  For information about any aspect of general surgery, especially bariatric surgery, please contact our office. Contact Dr Birkedal or phone us at 386-210-9794. Our offices, located in Daytona, New Smyrna and Palm coast are all part of the AdventHealth Medical Group.

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