Underground insulin exchanges emerge as workers lose jobs amid pandemic, insurance co-pays fall short

DENVER — D.j. Mattern had her Type 1 diabetes under control until COVID-19’s economic upheaval cost her husband his hotel maintenance job and their health coverage. The 42-year-old Denver woman suddenly faced insulin’s exorbitant list price — anywhere from $125 to $450 per vial — just as their household income shrank.

She scrounged extra insulin from friends, and her doctor gave her a couple of samples. But, as she rationed her supplies, her blood sugar rose so high that her glucose monitor couldn’t even register a number. In June, she was hospitalized.

“My blood was too acidic. My system was shutting down. My digestive tract was paralyzed,” Mattern said, after three weeks in the hospital. “I was almost near death.”

So she turned to a growing underground network of people with diabetes who share extra insulin when they have it, free of charge. It wasn’t supposed to be this way,

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US Has Highest Insulin Costs of Any Developed Nation

Insulin prices in the United States are at least four times higher, and in some cases up to 30 times higher, than in 32 other nations with similar high-income economies, according to a new study conducted for the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE).

US analogue insulin and human insulin prices were higher than those of the other nations. Prices were even higher when the study authors used active ingredient–level data rather than presentation-level data, suggesting that America offers a more expensive mix of insulins.

“This analysis provides the best available evidence about how much more expensive insulin is in the United States than in other nations around the world,” said Andrew Mulcahy, PhD, MPP, lead author and a senior policy researcher at the RAND Corp, a nonprofit research organization, which conducted the study for the government.

“Prices in

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Insulin Copay Caps Fall Short

Editor’s note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.


After losing her health insurance earlier this year, D.j. Mattern, who has Type 1 diabetes, turned to a growing underground network of people with diabetes who share extra insulin free of charge when they have it.

D.j. Mattern had her type 1 diabetes under control until COVID’s economic upheaval cost her husband his hotel maintenance job and their health coverage. The 42-year-old Denver woman suddenly faced insulin’s exorbitant list price — anywhere from $125 to $450 per vial — just as their household income shrank.

She scrounged extra insulin from friends, and her doctor gave her a couple of samples. But as she rationed her supplies, her blood sugar rose so high her glucose monitor couldn’t even register a number. In June, she was hospitalized.

“My blood was too acidic. My system was shutting down. My

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Trump says insulin is now so cheap, it’s ‘like water.’ It isn’t



a hand holding a bottle: President Trump made a number of claims about lowering drug prices during his debate with Democratic challenger Joe Biden. Most were untrue. (Arkasha Stevenson / Los Angeles Times)


© ( Los Angeles Times)
President Trump made a number of claims about lowering drug prices during his debate with Democratic challenger Joe Biden. Most were untrue. (Arkasha Stevenson / Los Angeles Times)

There was much to dislike in this week’s presidential debate — the lies, the rudeness, the inability of the White House incumbent to rise above the level of a cranky kindergartner.

For me, the low point came not when President Trump refused to condemn white supremacy, and not when he tore into the sons of Democratic candidate Joe Biden, but when he once again sought to convince the American people that he had single-handedly lowered the cost of prescription drugs.

Trump claimed that drug prices “will be coming down 80% or 90%” thanks to him.

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He claimed that a series of executive orders have forced pharmaceutical companies to slash prices.

And the one that floored

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