Month: January 2017

Drug Companies Are Profiting Huge As Diabetics Struggle To Afford Their Life

Drug Companies Are Profiting Huge As Diabetics Struggle To Afford Their Life


It’s of no surprise that many of Americans are struggling to afford their prescription drugs as prices continue to rise. But yet, little attention has been brought to the diabetes community. Where millions are dependent on a drug (hormone) that is needed everyday to stay alive.

Diabetes History

Diabetes has been around a very long time. There was a prescription for frequent urination, its most common symptom, on an Egyptian papyrus dating back to 1500 B.C.

Drug Companies Are Profiting Huge As Diabetics Struggle To Afford Their Life

But it wasn’t until 1921 when a Canadian doctor named Dr. Frederick G. Banting and a medical student, Charles H. Best discovered insulin. Before insulin, the only treatment for Type 1 Diabetes was a starvation diet that inevitably led to death.

Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease where your pancreas shuts down and no longer produces insulin. Type 2 Diabetes is where your body is resistant to insulin or doesn’t produce enough.

In 1923, Dr. Frederick G. Banting sold the patent to the University of Toronto for $3 in hopes to ensure that no company could have a monopoly over this life-sustaining medication and everyone could have access to it. The discovery has transformed diabetes from a death sentence into a manageable disease.

Drug Companies Are Profiting Huge As Diabetics Struggle To Afford Their Life

Dr. Banting believed insulin was a gift to humanity.

But once the University gave pharmaceutical companies the right to manufacture the drug royalty-free, diabetes quickly became their most profitable cash cow.


Insulin is a billion-dollar industry with zero low-priced generic versions on the market. While most name-brand drugs have generic versions that cost less than half the price, insulin is different.

Drug company officials defend their actions, saying they must bring in enough money for research and development. But critics say companies are hiding behind the innovation argument and are really just angling for bigger profits as the demand continues to rise for the drugs they sell.

There has been debate whether these newer versions are worth the cost. The replacing insulin derived from animals with a genetically engineered human form has been beneficial. But beyond that, the cost is still high for the older and newer insulins on the market, and insurance companies decide what they will cover regardless.

When accused of price hikes, blame also gets placed on the middlemen. The middlemen happen to be the wholesalers, pharmacies, and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). PBM’s are blamed for taking a piece of the pie. The rebate system is based primarily on the percentage of the drug’s list price. So as drug prices continue to rise, the rebates do as well. Meaning everyone benefits in the end, as long as everyone gets their share.

Insulin Prices Are Continuing To Rise

The price of insulin that has continued to rise over the years has led many into debt, bankruptcy, and even to the point of rationing insulin (which can cause complications or death). Millions of diabetics and their family members are struggling more than ever to afford not only their insulin but food and other basic necessities.

While there are patient assistance programs available, not everyone qualifies. One must apply and meet specific requirements. If accepted, a PAP may not always cover the insulin that a patient is recommended to use. Insulin isn’t a ‘one shoe fits all’ type of medication.

The United States has the highest cost of drugs compared to other countries.

Drug Companies Are Profiting Huge As Diabetics Struggle To Afford Their Life

Insulin is monopolized by the 3 big pharmaceutical companies — Eli Lilly, Sanofi, and Novo Nordisk — and the price for the insulin products made by those manufacturers has risen astronomically over the last decade. Humalog, a form of insulin that carried a sticker price of $21 a vial in 1996, today costs $255. A 34-year-old form of insulin, Humulin, priced at $17 a vial in 1997 now costs $138 a vial. Many diabetics also may need more than one vial of insulin a month.

The American Diabetes Association’s board of directors is calling on Congress to hold hearings to investigate dramatic increases in insulin prices and to take action to ensure that people have affordable access to the essential drug.

The Diabetes Community Is Speaking Out

Many in the diabetes community (whether diabetics or parents) are taking to social media in the form of hashtags and elongated posts to express their frustration and desperation for change. The desire of millions is to find a cure for diabetes. But many have come to grips with the assumption that the cure will never come because the pharmaceutical companies won’t allow it. Our lives are in the hands of pharmaceutical greed and we need the price gouging of life-sustaining medication to end.

Drug Companies Are Profiting Huge As Diabetics Struggle To Afford Their LifeDrug Companies Are Profiting Huge As Diabetics Struggle To Afford Their LifeDrug Companies Are Profiting Huge As Diabetics Struggle To Afford Their Life

Bernie Sanders has recently brought attention to the Justice Department to investigate price increases and possible price collusion. But the insulin drug companies later rejected accusations.

President Donald Trump has also shared his dismay with the drug companies on the campaign trail and in recent press conferences. His interest is in finding solutions to fix the broken prescription drug market.

“They are getting away with murder”

The nation faces a diabetes epidemic

Nearly 6 million Americans — young and old depend on insulin to stay alive. Insulin is not a luxury, it’s a necessity of life. We need transparency, affordability, and access to all. 

Insulin is our right because, without it, we die.

Here's To Another Year Of Conquering Diabetes

Here’s To Another Year Of Conquering Diabetes

Diabetes came into my life unexpectedly and forever changed the course of my journey in this life.

14 years old I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

And I remember it like it was yesterday.

I was 12 years old, being told I had an incurable disease and that my life was going to alter significantly.

I thought it was the end to the future I once envisioned.

I lost a lot that day. I lost peace of mind. I lost security. I lost much of my childhood.

But what I found on this journey is much greater.

I found myself.

Through all of this I’ve been able to grow and now heal.

I always questioned and wondered, “why me?” I wanted answers. I wanted purpose in all of this.

I’ve realized now that it’s always been right there in front of me.

After many years I was able to find myself again.

I had to overcome many obstacles and endure many failures.

But I found my strengths and my weaknesses.

I fought through many of my doubts and fears.

And by the grace of god, I made it through countless near death experiences.

And I was able to finally stand up and take back what’s mine.

My life.

I now have the life that I always hoped for, and even more so.

One thing diabetes has taught me is to appreciate every day for that it’s a gift. I was given a chance to live and for that, I’m eternally grateful.

The beautiful of this life I believe — isn’t getting to one destination. It’s the journey along the way.

It’s about helping people like me who are going through the same thing.

Making a small difference in the world that I once felt was so lonely.

I’m not only a survivor,

I’m a warrior.

Here’s to many more years of conquering diabetes —

Here's To Another Year Of Conquering Diabetes


Nobody Is Aware Of Diabetes

Nobody Is Aware Of Diabetes

Nobody Is Aware Of Diabetes

I wake up today with no saliva in my mouth and a dire quench for thirst. My insulin pump is still giving me insulin. I’m still hooked up to medical devices, but my body is resistant. Maybe due to illness, hormones, or because it’s a Tuesday. My blood sugars are high, much higher than a normal persons blood sugars. I’m tired, fatigued, and the feeling of mortality creeps in. I go to correct with insulin, drink water, and attempt to bring this down. But I know this won’t be the last time I experience this.

But nobody notices.

I spent my day monitoring my blood sugars, calculating and measuring how much insulin to give myself. My dosing is only an educated guess, and I have to make these decisions everyday in order to stay alive. But nothing is ever the same or perfect. I’m constantly on a tightrope, hoping not to fall. I’ll do the same thing every single day but receive different results.

When I go to pick up my insulin from the pharmacy, I get this overwhelming sense of sadness. I realize that the same insulin that keeps me alive comes with a huge price. Insulin is one of the most expensive drugs in the United States, and yet I can’t survive without it. Financially, this disease has crushed me. I’m in debt just for trying to stay alive.

But nobody cares.

Once I get home, I receive a notification that my blood sugar is low and dropping fast. I feel lightheaded, disorientated, and starving for glucose (energy). I go to the kitchen to grab anything I can find to raise my blood sugar. I feel alone, helpless, and I’m fighting to survive. It’s a near death experience, that I’ve experienced many times. A low feels like my body is shutting down. A low enough number could cause me to go unconscious, have a seizure, coma, or death.

But nobody is aware.

The night follows with finding a diabetes joke going viral on the internet. Where it’s mocking the disease, assuming it’s caused by being lazy and eating poorly. This is where I stop and realize that nobody notices, nobody cares, and nobody is aware because nobody actually knows about diabetes.

Nobody knows that diabetes kills more people than AIDS and Breast Cancer combined. Nobody knows that diabetes can be caused by an autoimmune disease. Nobody knows that children are dying from this disease. Nobody knows the overwhelming sense of fear of not knowing if your blood sugar will withstand the night. Nobody knows how it feels to experience the highs and lows.

Nobody knows our desperation for a cure…

…Except the person living with diabetes.
And those caring for them.

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I Won't Go Down Without a Fight

I Won’t Go Down Without a Fight

I Won’t Go Down Without a Fight

(I’m 15 years old at the time)

Brittany, what’s your blood sugar?” My mother asks after I get home from school.

Umm… 136.” A number I randomly blurt out without testing what my blood sugar actually was.

I go in my room and glance over at my unused lancets and test strips. I know what’s it’s there for. I know I’m supposed to take care of myself.

But why aren’t I? Why am I fighting against it?

I go to lay down, I’m tired, and I don’t feel right. I fall asleep…

(A half hour or so slips by)

Hi Brittany, My name is John , I’m an EMT and we’re here to help youCan you tell me what your name is?

“...Brittany“, I reply.

“Great Brittany, do you know why we’re here?”

My diabetes?” As I let out a deep saddened sigh.

Yes, your blood sugar was 19.”

We gave you a shot of dextrose. Please drink this juice and eat this sandwich to stabilize your blood sugar.”

Thank you“, I reply as I’m still very dazed and confused as to what’s going on.

My mother hugs me and begs me “please take better care of yourself“.

As tears fall from her face. I see the frantic look in her eyes.

Once I’m back to full consciousness, it sets in. I melt down. I cry, and this isn’t a normal cry. This is painful and it hurts and all the anger releases from within me in full despair.

The feeling of helplessness, guilt, shame because I feel weak… I feel tested… I feel numb… I feel unworthy of all these extra chances I get.

I feel like I’m letting everyone down… I’m letting myself down. I feel like a failure at a disease I never asked for. Something I could have never prevented.

All I can think about when I take my insulin injections is if I don’t take enough I could end up with amputation, loss of eyesight, kidney failure, heart disease and various complications.

I think about how even if I have great control, there is still a risk. It overwhelms me. I went from having a care free childhood to having a fear of dying in my sleep from a low blood sugar or too soon from complications.

This isn’t the typical “teenage reality”.

I’m sick and there’s nothing I can do to fix it. No denial, begging, or lashing out will make my situation better.

I’m my own worst enemy and the only person who can save me in the end, is me. It’s the most terrifying and debilitating feeling having this burden riding on my back.

It took awhile but this process has changed me. I came to grips with knowing I only had one choice. Which was to fight. So I did. I let it in. I embraced the unknown. I rose above the darkness that consumed me. I continued to get up everyday to fight the same demons that left me tired from the night before.

I went from crawling to walking to eventually running. I didn’t want diabetes to win. I knew that this wasn’t going to be easy. But I knew what was on the line.

I knew I would fail, which I have. It took much trial and error. But I’ve learned to get back up, brush myself off, and keep going. To not let the fear overcome me and dwindle my spirit. To honor and respect the journey, for it has led me to here.

To not go down without a fight…

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