TURES COLUMN: Bipartisan support for low cost insulin

Published 9:30 am Tuesday, October 25, 2022

The Georgia Senate debate between the Rev. Raphael Warnock and former college football star Herschel Walker has garnered national attention, as well as a raging debate over insulin.

At the debate, when Democratic Senator Warnock touted policies designed to lower the price of insulin, something that was part of his party’s Inflation Reduction Act.  This led to a $35 cap on monthly insulin costs for those on Medicare.  Warnock also noted that Walker said he would oppose the Inflation Reduction Act.

Walker countered with this statement. “I believe in reducing insulin but at the same time, you gotta eat right. I know many people that’s on insulin. Unless you’re eating right, insulin is doing you no good. So you have to get food prices down and you gotta get gas down so you can go get insulin,” the GOP candidate said, leaving us to wonder what he meant by “reducing insulin” and “eating right.”

Forbes cited Dr. Jasmine Clark, when she wrote “I think it’s important to note, that most people that require insulin for diabetes have Type I Diabetes (formerly known as Juvenile Diabetes). Their bodies don’t make insulin, usually since they were a child. They REQUIRE insulin to live. It has nothing to do with ‘eating right’.”  

A doctor and patient confirmed to me the importance of insulin for survival for those with diabetes; that patient is a fellow runner like me (and ran the Peachtree Road Race), and eats healthy too.

People desperately need insulin to survive.  USA Today reports that doctors are concerned that more than 1.3 million Americans are rationing their insulin in a desperate bid to live. According to Yahoo News, the Annals of Internal Medicine found that the number of people in dire insulin straits represent one out of five with this disease.  It’s not just about eating right.

I’m a big fan of eating healthy, but I also understand that not all Georgians have ready access to healthy food.  There are some places that are “food deserts,” where grocery stories are hard to come by.  One of our LaGrange College graduates made his career about getting food from farms to make it available in low-income neighborhoods. But businesses like his are hard to come by. And not everyone lives near a Fresh Market or Trader Joe’s.

Here’s something else to consider. “One vial of insulin only costs between $2 and $10 to make, depending on the type, according to Verywell Health. 

However, for consumers, one vial of insulin can cost between $50 and $1,000, and a pack of insulin pens can range from $45 to $600.  So, if a vial of insulin goes for $1,000 and that insulin costs just $10 to make, that’s a 100x markup for consumers”.  

With only three manufacturers and a competitive $22 billion industry, that’s why 20 states, including red ones like Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Kentucky, Utah and West Virginia have already capped insulin prices, according to the American Diabetes Association.  It’s clear that many Americans, conservative and liberal, recognize how important low-cost insulin is, and how it is more than just a matter of just doing the diet right.