Patients Report Skimping on Insulin Because of Cost

Insulin prices and out-of-pocket prescription costs have increased substantially in the past decade in the United States.

In a small survey of patients at an urban diabetes center, one in four reported skimping on their prescribed insulin because of cost, and this was associated with poor glycemic control. Insulin is lifesaving for people with diabetes and is listed as an essential medicine by the World Health Organization, which means that it should be affordable for those who need it.

Of the 199 patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes who were prescribed insulin and who completed the survey, 51 (25.5 percent) reported cost-related underuse of insulin. Underuse included using less than prescribed, trying to stretch out insulin, taking smaller doses, stopping insulin, not filling a prescription, or not starting prescribed insulin. More than one-third of the patients with cost-related underuse didn’t discuss the matter with their doctor. The single-center study may be limited in its ability to be generalized, but researchers conclude that the results highlight an urgent need to address the affordability of insulin.

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This article was adapted from information provided by JAMA – Journal of the American Medical Association.

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