cost in U.S. more than doubles between 2002-2013
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[April 06, 2016]
By Andrew M. Seaman
(Reuters Health) - The cost of the hormone
insulin, one of the most important treatments for diabetes, rose nearly
200 percent between 2002 and 2013, according to a new study.
While other diabetes medications also increased in price, total
spending on insulin in 2013 was greater than the combined spending
on all those other drugs, researchers report in JAMA.
"The large increase in costs can largely be explained (by) much
greater use of newer types of insulin known as analog insulins,"
said senior author Philip Clarke, of the University of Melbourne in
Australia. "While these drugs can be better for some patients, they
are much more costly than the human insulin they replaced."
For the new study, the researchers used data from 2002 to 2013 on
U.S. medical spending from 27,878 people with diabetes. The
participants' average age was about 60.
Among patients using insulin, the average amount used each year went
from 171 milliliters (mL) in 2002-2004 to 206 mL in 2011-2013.
The average price of insulin increased 197 percent, from $4.34 to
$12.92 per mL, during that time.
Annual spending on insulin per patient increased from $231.48 to
$736.09 over the study period. By 2013, the per-patient spending on
insulin was greater than the per-patient combined spending on other
diabetes drugs, which was $502.57.
The price of oral diabetes drugs known as DPP-4 inhibitors, such as
sitagliptin and linagliptin, increased 34 percent between 2006 and
2013. The cost per pill of metformin actually fell by 93 percent
from 2002 to 2013.
The researchers say the price of insulin is unlikely to decline
because of the regulations and cost involved with bringing
comparable products to the market.
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Dr. Robert Gabbay, who was not involved with the new research, said
the rising cost of insulin affects the amount of money people with
diabetes pay out of pocket and also impacts how they can manage
"I can tell you from seeing patients myself that there are many who
canít afford their insulin and donít take it or take less of it and
theyíre worse off for it," said Gabbay, who is chief medical officer
of the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston.
"Here is the treatment that almost one-third of people with diabetes
are on and its increased in price to this degree, thatís quite
concerning," he said.
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1SNzGDS JAMA, online April 5, 2016.
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