Dramatic improvements in how we treat diabetes have transformed the lives of patients. A century ago, patients were treated with animal insulins. Today, patients have access to insulins that operate at the molecular level that more closely resemble insulin release as it naturally occurs in the body.
The insulins that have become available over the past 15 to 20 years drive innovation toward more closely replicating natural insulin function in the body. These advances have translated to meeting a wider range of unmet needs, providing patients with the tools necessary to stay adherent and healthy – saving costs throughout the health care system.
Insulin prices after discounts and rebates have declined in recent years, but too often these negotiated savings are not shared directly with patients, resulting in those with chronic conditions paying higher out-of-pocket costs to subsidize the healthy. This is the opposite of how health insurance is supposed to work.
The right way to address patient affordability challenges is to change the incentives in the supply chain so that more of the $166 billion in negotiated rebates and discounts are used to lower costs for diabetes patients at the pharmacy counter. We also need to advance policy solutions that delink supply chain payments from the list price of a medicine, provide first dollar coverage of insulin for high-deductible health plan patients, count third-party discount programs toward deductibles and provide flat copays for insulin for patients receiving cost-sharing subsidies in the exchanges.