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Danette Dacey Group

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Karen Timofeev
Karen Timofeev

Insulin To Buy

There are two types of human insulin available over the counter: one made by Eli Lilly and the other by Novo Nordisk. These versions of the medicine are older, and take longer to metabolize than some of the newer, prescription versions; they were created in the early 1980s, and the prices range from more than $200 a vial to as little as $25, depending on where you buy them.

insulin to buy

Still, some people with diabetes, as well as some doctors, doubt that the benefits of that greater availability outweigh the risks, especially for patients who switch from one type of insulin to another without telling their doctor.

Dr. Todd Hobbs is chief medical officer of Novo Nordisk in North America, which makes Novolin, one of the two versions of insulin sold over the counter. His company partners with Wal-Mart to sell its version under the brand name ReliOn. (Wal-Mart declined to be interviewed for this story.)

Dr. Goldstein decided to research OTC insulin because she prescribes ReliOn brand insulin as the least expensive option for people without health insurance in her clinical practice. Insulin prices have risen dramatically in recent years, nearly tripling from 2002 to 2013 according to an article published in April 2016 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). In March 2019, Eli Lilly announced it would sell a cheaper generic version of its Humalog 100 insulin for about $137 a vial, effectively cutting the price of the original in half. Other fixes include Cigna and Express Scripts offering a $25 cap on out-of-pocket insulin costs for its consumers in participating plans.

Walmart sells all three types under the ReliOn brand umbrella for roughly $25 a vial. Chain pharmacies can also sell regular, NPH, and 70-30 insulin to patients over the counter, says Goldstein. She found that OTC insulin is more frequently sold at Walmart than other chain pharmacies, likely due to the considerably lower price point.

Trujillo says that it can be more challenging to use older insulin to mimic what a normal, functioning pancreas does. For example, people with type 1 diabetes using older insulin have higher rates of low blood glucose, according to an article published in October 2014 in The BMJ. Low blood glucose is a serious issue, especially with repeated incidents over a lifetime, which can lead to seizures, cognitive impairment, loss of work productivity, and even a higher risk of early death, according to a review published in January 2019 in the journal Diabetology & Metabolic Syndrome.

Schedule a phone call or an appointment to discuss your concerns. She says drug makers also provide assistance programs for insulin. Not taking your prescribed dose of insulin can make you extremely ill, and people have gone to the hospital and even died, says Antinori-Lent.

More than 20 million Americans have diabetes, in which the body fails to properly use sugar from food due to insufficient insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas. Diabetes can often be managed without drugs or with oral medications, but some patients need daily insulin injections. The drug can often cost from $120 to $400 per month without prescription drug insurance.

The two doctors decided to find out why no one makes generic insulin. A University of Toronto medical team discovered insulin in 1921, and in 1923, the university, which held the first patent, gave drug companies the right to manufacture it and patent any improvements. In the 1930s and 1940s, pharmaceutical companies developed long-acting forms that allowed most patients to take a single daily injection. In the 1970s and 1980s, manufacturers improved the purity of cow- and pig-extracted insulin. Since then, several companies have developed synthetic analogs.

Biotech insulin is now the standard in the U.S., the authors say. Patents on the first synthetic insulin expired in 2014, but these newer forms are harder to copy, so the unpatented versions will go through a lengthy Food and Drug Administration approval process and cost more to make. When these insulins come on the market, they may cost just 20 to 40 percent less than the patented versions, Riggs and Greene write.

Background: There is much public debate regarding the high cost of insulin. With 1-in-4 patients in the United States with type 1 diabetes reporting difficulties affording insulin, there is concern that some of these patients might look for cost savings on the internet, unaware that 96% of internet pharmacies are illegitimate. Patients who purchase insulin from illegitimate internet pharmacies remove themselves from traditional health care systems that ensure safe, quality-assured, and effective medication use.

Objective: This study aims to determine the accessibility of Humalog and NovoLog insulin from internet pharmacies and characterize how these sites approached patient safety, and priced as well as marketed their products.

Methods: From September to December 2019, we queried the phrases buy insulin online, buy Humalog online, and buy NovoLog online in common search engines. The first 100 search results from Google and Bing, and the first 50 search results from Yahoo! and DuckDuckGo were screened. Websites were included if they claimed to sell Humalog or NovoLog insulin, were active, free access, in the English language, and had a unique URL. The legitimacy of websites was classified using LegitScript. Safety and marketing characteristics were compared across the legitimacy of internet pharmacies. Internet pharmacy prices were compared with the prices offered through brick-and-mortar pharmacies using GoodRx.

Results: We found that 59% (n=29) of the 49 internet pharmacies in our analysis were illegitimate, whereas only 14% (n=7) were legitimate and 27% (n=13) were unclassified. Across illegitimate internet pharmacies, Humalog and NovoLog insulin were 2 to 5 times cheaper as compared with both legitimate internet pharmacies and brick-and-mortar stores. Risks associated with the use of illegitimate internet pharmacies by American consumers were evident: 57% (8/14) did not require a prescription, 43% (6/14) did not display medication information or warnings, and only 21% (3/14) offered access to purported pharmacists. This included 9 rogue internet pharmacies that sold Humalog and NovoLog insulin within the United States, where 11% (1/9) required a prescription, 11% (1/9) placed quantity limits per purchase, and none offered pharmacist services. Rogue internet pharmacies often offered bulk discounts (11/18, 61%), assured privacy (14/18, 78%), and promoted other products alongside insulin (13/18, 72%). The marketing language of illegitimate internet pharmacies appealed more to quality, safety, and customer service as compared with legitimate sites.

Conclusions: The ease of access to low-cost insulin through illegitimate internet pharmacies calls for urgent attention. Illegitimate internet pharmacies place patients at risk of poor-quality medications and subpar pharmacy services, resulting in adverse events and poor diabetes control. A multifaceted approach is needed to close illegitimate internet pharmacies through legal and regulatory measures, develop better search engine filters, raise public awareness of the dangers of illegitimate internet pharmacies, and address the high costs of insulin.

Amazon is carrying all well-known insulin brands, but for most, there does not currently appear to be any savings over typical prices at local pharmacies around the country. See pricing details below.

But some of the pricing is a bit misleading, as it is broken down in different increments than those commonly prescribed amounts. For example, insulin pens come in boxes of five; but Amazon breaks down the pricing for an individual pen, which is not how most of us expect to see the cost calculations.

A study by the Annals of Internal Medicine from last November shows that more than 1.3 Million Americans with diabetes ration their insulin because of it's high prices, despite doctors saying it is dangerous.

Several legislative proposals in Congress propose a $35 per month cap on what people with health insurance would have to pay out of pocket for insulin, a life-saving hormone taken regularly by many people with diabetes to maintain their health.

Among people with private insurance who currently pay more than $35 per month for insulin on average, half would save at least $19 per month, and a quarter would save at least $42 per month. Savings are highest among people who buy their own insurance. 041b061a72


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