FIRST, let’s look at the HIGH PRICE of insulin in the United States!
Key California lawmaker calls Eli Lilly’s behavior ‘disingenuous and offensive’ as reported by Barbara Feder Ostrov, California Healthline on FiercePharma.com, 14 August 2018.
But not Eli Lilly.
The Indianapolis-based drugmaker—one of the largest producers of insulin—has been under fire from consumer advocates for jacking up prices on its lifesaving diabetes medication. And the company has chosen not to follow the California law, which requires it not only to disclose but also to justify significant price hikes to drug purchasers.
Eli Lilly has informed customers that it will hold off on providing such notices until an industry lawsuit challenging the law’s constitutionality is resolved in court.
That has angered Sen. Ed Hernandez, O.D., D-West Covina, who wrote the law. He reacted sharply when the company announced a new “helpline” last week to assist patients struggling to pay for its insulin—and asked California lawmakers to publicize it.
“I should promote to my constituents a company that’s breaking the law and raising prices?” Hernandez, who recently stepped down as chairman of the Senate Health Committee, said in an interview with California Healthline. “Insulin has been around for decades and there hasn’t been any new innovation. Why not just lower the price so we can all afford it?”
- Key California lawmaker calls Eli Lilly’s behavior ‘disingenuous and offensive’
- Commentary: The high price of insulin creates obscene profits for drugmakers
- Banting’s Ghost: Documentary on Insulin Access Hopes to Spark Change
What about BigPharma? Why a patient paid a $285 copay for a $40 drug, in a report by Megan Thompson on PBS News Hour on Health, 19 August 2018. Insurance copays are higher than the cost of the drug about 25 percent of the time, according to a study published in March by the University of Southern California’s Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics.
USC researchers analyzed 9.5 million prescriptions filled during the first half of 2013. They compared the copay amount to what the pharmacy was reimbursed for the medication and found in the cases where the copay was higher, the overpayments averaged $7.69, totaling $135 million that year.
“Smart Insulin” Still on the Diabetes Research Radar, according to Mike Hoskins for DiabetesMine, 20 August 2018. Bottom line: Closed loop is now a reality, ableit in early form — but it’s getting more sophisticated by the day. So it may not be too much of a stretch to believe that smart insulin will become a reality before long too.
The Promise of Smart Glucagon: No More Living in Fear of Hypos was reported by Katie Bacon on ASweetLife.org, August 2018.
Protomer Technologies, a biotechnology company based in Pasadena, California, is already working on developing smart insulin. Now they’re in the early stages of working on smart glucagon, which would quietly circulate in the body until activated by low glucose levels. In the spring, Protomer’s concept won the T1D Exchange’s Diabetes Innovation Challenge, a competition to “identify, nurture and fast-track innovative scientific and clinical solutions for diabetes.” (The competition drew sixty entries from around the world; other finalists included a company developing smart insoles that would help predict foot ulcers, and a bandage-thin “patch pump” that could dispense insulin along with other medications.)
Alborz Mahdavi, Protomer’s founder and CEO, told me that his company decided to focus on smart glucagon for a couple of reasons: they felt that they had the right background and technical experience to tackle the problem, and they saw an important unmet need. In its current form, glucagon is a powder that must first be mixed with a sterile solution and then injected. If someone is alone and experiencing hypoglycemia severe enough to require glucagon, they’re very unlikely to be able to formulate the glucagon themselves. This means they must be lucky enough to have someone there who knows how to formulate it and inject it. Smart glucagon, however, would activate within the body when—and only when—needed. Mahdavi points out that few companies are working in this space, partly because the glucagon market is tiny compared to the insulin market. “But honestly, money issues aside, we just thought about it and said, if this thing was available now, what kind of impact would it have? It’s going to be huge. There are people who are dying, twenty and thirty year olds, dying from hypoglycemia. They go to sleep, have a hypoglycemic episode, and they never wake up. That’s the worst result, but there are a lot of other really bad things that can happen too.”
Open Insulin Project is FASCINATING!
We’re a team of Bay Area biology nerds who believe that insulin should be freely available to anybody who needs it. So, we’re developing the first freely available, open protocol for insulin production. We hope our research will be the basis for generic production of this life-saving drug. Additionally, we hope our work inspires other biohackers to band together and create things nobody has ever thought of before!
Why insulin? There are currently 387 million people worldwide living with diabetes. Diabetics cannot survive without insulin. While most diabetics here in the U.S. have access to insulin, those in poorer communities and regions often go without insulin due to cost or bureaucracy. As a result, many go without and suffer complications including blindness, cardiovascular disease, amputations, nerve and kidney damage, and eventually death. Pharmaceutical companies patent small modifications to previous insulins while withdrawing those previous versions from the market to keep prices up. We’re doing the scientific research necessary for a generic drug company to make a low-cost insulin and open up access to this crucial drug.
Read more: Open Insulin Project