ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — A two-week supply of insulin for diabetic Quinn Nystrom can cost anywhere from $300 to $400 per vial.
That’s 537 percent more than it cost just 10 years ago, and there’s nothing diabetes patients like Nystrom can do about it.
“Insulin is not a cure for diabetes. It is our life support,” said Nystrom. “Insulin is not a cure. It is literally what keeps me alive. Without it, I am dead.”
Nystrom’s story is common in Minnesota, as 466,638 people have diabetes — 10.5 percent of the population. This results in $4 billion in medical costs every year.
That’s why state lawmakers are meeting ahead of the legislative session to try to slow down insulin’s skyrocketing price tag. Hearing those stories brought tears to their eyes.
Nicole Smith-Holt’s 26-year-old son Alec “aged off” his mother’s insurance. He tried to “stretch” his medication until his next payday to buy $1,300 worth of insulin. He didn’t make it.
“Alec was pronounced dead at the scene. The official cause of death was diabetic kenoacidosis,” Smith-Holt said.
Angry lawmakers say they’re hearing more stories about insulin price hikes. They’re treating it like a public health emergency.
“You can’t wait for the price to go lower,” said Sen. Matt Little, D-Lakeville. “You have no bargaining power whatsoever. You can’t bargain with your health and you can’t bargain with your life.”