28 April 2017

"Black market insulin" should not exist

As reported by NBC News:
Gabriella is allergic to the kind of insulin her insurer covers at a $25 out-of-pocket cost. She can only take Apidra, but her insurance only covers 25 percent of the price, leaving the family to pay hundreds of dollars a month they can't afford.

So her mom has turned to the black market, trading for the medication with other families with diabetes she meets online, a tactic that regulators and health experts warn is a health risk...

The class of rapid-acting insulin Gabriella depends upon comes at a price — one that's risen 1,123 percent since 1996, according to data from Truven Health Analytics, even as more competitors have entered the market.

Her parents' insurer, West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA), considers Gabriella's insulin Apidra "Tier 3," which means the family has to pay 75 percent of the price. A copay-reduction card from drugmaker Sanofi would help some, but would still leave them to pay $270 for one vial, which would last them about a month...

Since they're not uninsured, the Corleys don't qualify for free insulin under Sanofi's patient assistance program...

As far as the industry is concerned, Humalog, Novolog, and Apidra are all equivalent insulins in terms of how they lower blood sugar levels. So whether or not your insurer covers it comes down to the deal they can cut.

But not every patient can use the drug their insurer has decided they can take, or afford the one they want to. Drugs' formulations vary. Some patients may have a reaction to the inactive ingredients or find that one kind works differently in their body, forcing them to relearn years of mental math performed at every mealtime. 
American healthcare is a total clusterfuck debacle.


  1. So true. I have Kaiser, and I couldn't be happier. However, I have friends with other insurers who have really scary stories about their insurance companies. I don't understand why every other industrialized country in the world has universal healthcare provided by the government, and we do not.

  2. Black markets exist only under government regulated markets. People who think regulation by a handful of bureaucrats is a good thing fail to consider the countless problems like this example. Regulation eliminates competition and drives up pricing.

    1. Your first sentence is of course a tautology, because the definition of a "black market" is one which is noncompliant with institutional regulations.

    2. Gabriella is my daughter thank you for running the story and your positive comments


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