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The State and its flagship University could collaborate with BCBSM to develop a local supply of low cost, Pure Michigan insulin
Insulin prices have been making headlines recently. By some measures, prices per unit of insulin have doubled or tripled in recent years, seemingly without justifiable reason. The US currently spends ~$15 billion p.a. on insulin, but has only three insulin suppliers, so oligopolistic pricing behavior is not surprising. To be sure, drug companies are innovating, and Congress may yet step in, but until then, diabetics (and insurers to a lesser extent) are at the mercy of the insulin cartel. Or are they?
Nearly 30 million Americans have diabetes. All ~1 million with Type 1 diabetes require insulin, as do about 20% of those with Type 2 diabetes. At 7.7% penetration, ~762 k Michiganians have diabetes, of which an estimated ~180 k would require insulin. Those numbers are all expected to rise.
Some insulin users are now spending >$5700 annually on the medication, and on average, insulin costs $607 per diabetic; As such, insulin spending in Michigan likely exceeds $460 million each year (by comparison, the state of Michigan collected $478 million in gas taxes in 2017), or it least it should exceed $460 million if all cases were diagnosed and a quarter of patients didn’t ration their doses.
As Dr Ofri recently noted in the New York Times, diabetics are under pressure because of the high insulin costs as well as insurance shenanigans. Some insurers are reportedly changing what insulins they cover so often that patients cannot fill prescriptions. Others are raising copays. Others simply do not include insulin in their preferred medications. Rationing and poor diabetes management result in an extra $5000 per person in healthcare costs.