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Diabetes patients are losing limbs because insulin is expensive

As a result of not being able to afford insulin, which has to be taken every day, some patients have had to go without. Some have even lost limbs and their sight.

Insulin is a drug that is injected and some patients can’t take it daily because of its price. Some forms of insulin can cost patients hundreds of dollars, when they don’t have health insurance or if they have a high deductible.

One medical professor tracked the price of insulin over the years. They said a one-month supply of a popular version of insulin once cost $45 wholesale. Years later, the price of it increased by almost 3,000 percent to $1,447. That’s just the wholesale price and not retail.

The Consumerist quoted a pharmacist and diabetes educator, who said that patients are desperate, so they go without insulin or they skip doses. Sometimes they lower their prescribed dose, but then they end up in the emergency room with long-term complications such as vision problems, leg amputations and kidney failure.

Dr. Irl Hirsch, professor of medicine in the Division of Metabolism, said he once had a patient tell him that her insulin bill cost her as much as her mortgage. Another doctor, Dr. Claresa Levetan, chief of endocrinology at Chestnut Hill Hospital, said she sees people daily in the hospital because they can’t get their doses of insulin. She added that many are in the intensive care unit with diabetic ketoacidosis.

Hirsch said the government has to get involved and that the well-being of diabetes patients should come before profit games that are being played over the price of insulin.

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