Insulin Costs Nearly Doubled Over Five-year Period

Type 1 diabetes patients in the U.S. paid nearly double the amount for insulin in 2016 compared to 2012, according to a recent analysis.

The report, from the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI), found that in 2016, type 1 diabetes patients spent $5,705 per person on insulin. Insulin accounted for 31% of the the $18,494 total gross spending for type 1 diabetes patients in 2016.

The second greatest portion of spending was on non-insulin pharmacy purchases, including diabetic supplies and other non-diabetes drugs, which totaled $4,119 (22%). The remaining spending was for outpatient care ($3,481, 19%), professional procedures ($3,073, 17%), and inpatient care ($2,116, 11%).

The greatest increase in gross spending was in insulin, which alone constituted nearly half (47%) of the total per-person spending increase over the five-year period.

Despite the large increase in spending, daily use of insulin did not change significantly. Average daily insulin use was 62 units in 2016, compared to 60 units in 2012—a 2-unit (3%) change. Mealtime insulins use went up by 3 units, combination insulins use went down by 1 unit, and basal insulin usage remained the same.

The price increase is not largely driven by new products, according to the researchers.

“It’s not that individuals are using more insulin or that new products are particularly innovative or provide immense benefits,” report author Jeannie Fuglesten Biniek, a senior researcher at HCCI, told Reuters. “Use is pretty flat, and the price changes are occurring in both older and newer products. That surprised me. The exact same products are costing double.”

To conduct their analysis, researchers assessed between 13,800 and 16,200 type 1 diabetes patients for each year who had at least one prescription for an insulin product each year.

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Sources: Reuters, HCCI