The high costs of diabetes treatment force patients to make life-or-death decisions

The cost of diabetes medication is on the rise. In some cases, prices for insulin and new diabetes drugs can reach thousands of dollars a month. This is forcing patients to make potentially life-threatening choices.

Insulin can cost hundreds of dollars. GLP-1 drugs like Ozempic and Mounjaro can cost $1,500 without insurance. Even with insurance, some patients complain, those drugs are still too expensive.

“I have to go through to get the medicine I need,” says Stacy Knowles, who lives with type 2 diabetes.

Knowles has to take several different medications every day. “Oral medication, Glipizide, two different types of insulin and Mounjaro as well,” she said. This is a life-threatening condition.

“I probably pay about $400 a month for medicine,” Knowles said. The high price sometimes forces Knowles to make difficult decisions. “I had to choose between buying my medicine or buying food for the week.”

The cost of diabetes medications such as conventional insulin and GLP-1 drugs is staggering.

“Now the costs of these newer drugs are three, four times more than regular insulin,” said Dr. Cecil Bennett, Medical Director of Newnan Family Medicine Associates. the newest drugs”.

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Wegovy and Ozempic are in a new class of medications known as GLP-1 receptor agonists.

Wegovy and Ozempic are in a new class of medications known as GLP-1 receptor agonists.

The price of insulin is still hundreds of dollars without insurance. “You have to have insulin regardless of the cost. There is no substitute for it,” said Dr. Bennett.

Dr. Bennett says exorbitant costs force some of his low-income patients to ration. “When they can’t use it, it makes them very sick, in the emergency room. And they risk major complications and even death,” said Dr. Bennett.

Saloni Firasta-Vastani, a marketing professor at Emory’s Goizueta Business School, says a lot of hands dip into the drug cash flow. Pharmacy managers, wholesalers, pharmacies themselves, insurance companies benefit,” said Firasta-Vastani.

All those players plus fast-growing demand and short supply drive up costs, which are passed on to the patient, “which results in higher prices,” Firasta-Vastani said.

Dr. Bennett urges patients to shop around different pharmacies for the best prices. He also advises looking for prescription coupons, like Good-RX, to help with costs.

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