‘This little, innocent-looking vial is a crisis’: Schumer on rising cost of insulin

[anvplayer video=”5091235″ station=”998131″]

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — A medicine that is vital to nearly 2 million diabetic New Yorkers is at the forefront of bipartisan discussion as legislators aim to attack its rising cost.

Sen. Maj. Leader Chuck Schumer (D, NY) was in the Rochester area Monday afternoon standing with Rochesterians with diabetes calling for a vote next month to bring down the high cost of insulin.

“This little, innocent-looking vial is a crisis,” Schumer said. “It’s a crisis because it’s so darn expensive and so desperately needed by so many millions of Americans and so many tens of thousands of families here in the Rochester-Finger Lakes area.”

Since 2012, list prices for insulin have risen with an average increase in price of nearly 15% to 17% per year. As a result, it is forcing many diabetics, like Francine Camacho, to make life-threatening choices.

“A couple months ago, I was rationing my insulin, and I woke up and I couldn’t see. Everything was black. I couldn’t see anything,” Camacho said.

Camacho has struggled with Type 2 Diabetes for nearly 40 years and is on Social Security.

“These two insulins would cost me $500. Now, this one alone costs $500 and this one is $295,” Camacho said, holding her two vials of insulin in hand.

The sticker shock is unfortunately not something new, and pharmacists are witnessing the impact firsthand.

“What we hear from patients when they tell us some of the reasons why they’re unable to take the medication therapy as prescribed is because of the high out-of-pocket cost of insulin that they are seeing when they go to the pharmacy,” said Erica Dobson, director of pharmacy services at Accountable Health Partners, a clinically integrated network of eight regional hospitals and over 2,000 providers.

Amid a lingering pandemic and rising costs all around, that’s why legislators and advocates are stepping in and trying to put an end to the insulin crisis.

“We have a real shot to fix this. This has bipartisan support and will give the people of Rochester-Finger Lakes area with diabetes the sigh of relief they’ve been seeking in decades,” Schumer said.

The majority leader will call for a Senate vote in March to bring that cost down. Schumer said the house has similar legislation, and he is hoping to see results in the next several months.