EpiPen isn't the only drug with a price hike: Insulin prices skyrocket

Manufacturers associated with the EpiPen device have drawn heavy criticism from consumers and lawmakers, but it's not the only lifesaving drug on the market experiencing soaring costs. Insulin prices have risen to nearly $400 a month in some cases, roughly eight times its average value, according to The Missoulian.

According to the report, the wholesale price of insulin, used to regulate blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes, skyrocketed from $45 in 2001 to nearly $1447 in 2015 for a 30-day supply, forcing some patients to choose between food, rent or insulin. Some cash-strapped patients have taken to rationing insulin to make their supplies last longer, which could negatively affect their health.  

The price of insulin, like with other pharmaceuticals, is controlled by the manufactures, insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers.

According to the article, pharmacy trade organizations are pressuring congressional committees and state regulators to investigate the pricing practices of all the parties involved.

A spokesperson from St. Louis-based Express Scripts, the largest benefit manager in the U.S., told The Missoulian that the cost of insulin continues to rise because there is no generic insulin available on the market. Patients are forced to comply and pay industry prices because its their only option.

"The government is going to have to get involved and it’s going to get ugly," said Irl Hirsch, MD, professor of medicine in the division of metabolism, endocrinology and nutrition at the University of Washington in Seattle. "The well-being of our diabetes patients must come before the profit-driven games being played over the price of the clear liquid that keeps them alive."

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