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High prices of insulin costs an Indiana man his life

Posted at 8:08 PM, Dec 30, 2019

NOBLESVILLE — A vial, no more than two inches tall, was the difference between life and death for those with diabetes.

Jeremy Crawford, 39, died in August from pneumonia combined with diabetes, doctors say.

"You shouldn't have to bury your kids," Harry Rybolt said. "Not for a reason like this. Sometimes accidents happen. This is not an accident."

Rybolt says Crawford lost his health insurance and switched to a cheaper insulin he could buy over the counter.

In the past decade, the four most popular types of insulin have tripled in cost, making the average price for someone paying out of pocket now $450 a month.

The costs are forcing some people to drive to Canada to get insulin for $32 instead. Studies show some one in four people with diabetes are skimping or skipping out on life-saving doses.

"I would look them straight in the eye and hold a picture my son and tell them tell me this is acceptable that he died because he couldn't afford it," Rybolt said.

State Rep. Robin Shackleford (D-98) says it's the state's responsibility to to do whatever they can.

Shackleford plans to propose legislation in the new year that would cap the cost of insulin to $100 for a 30-day supply. In May, Colorado passed a similar law.

"The manufacturer may set the price for a drug or say for insulin, and by the time it gets to the consumer, so many more prices have been added on to the consumer is paying a higher price," Shackleford said.

She says the price can be reduced by the manufacturer, the middleman, pharmacy benefit managers, and insurers.

Earlier this year, Eli Lilly released a lower-cost generic version of its insulin drug "humalog" for $137 for a single vial. The CEO said it can serve as "a bridge that addresses gaps in the system until a more sustainable model is achieved.

This article was written by Stephanie Wade for WRTV .