ARVADA, Colo. (CBS4) – A new government report outlines the rise in cost of life-saving insulin. The price has doubled in the last six years, after tripling the decade before that. In the face of such increases, some patients living with diabetes are turning to a black market of sorts to get their insulin and diabetes supplies.
The Barton family started dealing with diabetes two years ago, when at age 7, Eli was diagnosed with Type 1.
“Ever since I got diabetes, I was so worried…I was so scared about my life. Until I started doing everything and getting the hang of it, it got not so scary,” Eli told CBS4.
Eli does do everything. He wears a high tech monitor that tells him when his blood sugar level is low. He monitors his carbs carefully, and gives himself an insulin injection several times a day.
“If he does not get that insulin, he will die. There is no question about it. It’s a fact,” said Cody Barton, Eli’s father.
The fact is that the price of Eli’s insulin has skyrocketed over the years, so too has the family’s stress.
“The fear of keeping my alive is so real, so scary,” said Heather Barton, Eli’s mother.
They are not alone. Others have turned to what can be described as a black market for insulin. On Ebay, we found insulin – two vials for $600. On Facebook, half price insulin pens, and another post with a plea for insulin, “my insurance is crazy”.
“In the good old days, it was $2 for 1000 units,” said Dr. Satish Garg, the head of the Adult Diabetes Program at the Barbara Davis Center in Aurora.
In his 40 year career, Dr. Garg has seen the price of insulin go up to as much as $500 a vial.
“There is greed and there is riches. The political system and what have you is all built in, and it’s very unfortunate,” Garg told CBS4.
We found thousands of GoFundMe accounts started by people living with diabetes. Many of them raising money just to buy insulin.
In the case of Shane Patrick Boyle, He was collecting money for insulin, but died before he reached his goal. Boyle is one of three high profile deaths in the last year of people who couldn’t afford insulin.
“People wouldn’t be turning to the black market if insulin was affordable,” Heather Barton explained.
Heather changed her whole life in the face of this healthcare dilemma. She graduated from a job training program, and got a new, higher paying job, with better insurance.
“It’s so important. If I never worried or did anything about it, I would probably die,” Eli explained how serious is diabetes diagnosis is.
“I’m definitely proud of him,” Cody Barton said.
“He’s my hero in that aspect, teaching me every day that I can do anything,” Heather added.
Now the Bartons want to see some relief for other families living on the financial brink, and still trying to afford life with diabetes.