Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan recently facilitated a roundtable on insulin affordability with insulin advocates, health professionals, and individuals with diabetes who rely on insulin to survive.
“No one should be forced to go without lifesaving drugs, especially something as common and as necessary as insulin,” said Walz. “This is an urgent and important conversation to continue beyond today, and I am committed to elevating the stories of Minnesotans with diabetes and the struggles they face in getting necessary care.”
“The cost of insulin and other lifesaving drugs has skyrocketed, putting the lives of Minnesotans on the line,” said Flanagan. “For too long, people have had to choose between their health and their housing, their food, or other necessities, with devastating consequences. We must work together to find a solution to this crisis.”
Insulin advocates shared their personal experiences with the roundtable.
“My younger brother was diagnosed in 1996, I was diagnosed in 1999. Back then, a vial, this vial of insulin, would cost around $16 to 20 dollars. The vial of insulin has not changed, there’s nothing new that has come out. But now, twenty years later, this vial of insulin is anywhere from $300 dollars to $400 dollars,” said Quinn Nystrom, Chapter Leader of Minnesota Insulin for All. “This is my life support. This is not an optional medication. This is not Tylenol. This is not ‘I can do this every other day.’ That’s not an option for people with diabetes. That’s something we need to be very clear on here. If I don’t have this, I’m dead.”
Others offered insight into the rising prices of insulin.
“Part of how we got into this mess is the whole rebate system. The drug company sells their drug, insulin in this case, to a distributor who then sends it to the pharmacy,” said Dr. David Tridgell, an endocrinologist with Park Nicollet Clinic. “But what’s happened is in part, in order to get drugs covered by a certain formulary, the drug company pays a rebate and so if you want to get your insulin paid for, people having been raising, and raising, and raising the list price because then the for-profit insurance companies and PBMs, then they get a rebate.”