As the cost of insulin has doubled in the past decade, more Americans are rationing their supplies, skipping doses and engaging in other underuse behaviors because they cannot afford the treatment, according to a recent Yale University study.
One-quarter of patients with type 1 or 2 diabetes have reported using less insulin than prescribed due to these high costs, Yale researchers write in JAMA Internal Medicine, and over a third of those patients experiencing cost-related underuse said they never discussed this reality with their provider.
“You might have heard stories of patients rationing their insulin,” said Yale endocrinologist and senior author Dr. Kasia Lipska. “The stories are really powerful, but they don’t tell us how common this problem has become. Our findings show that these are not isolated incidents and that skimping on insulin is frighteningly common. As clinicians, we have to advocate for change because the status quo is simply cruel and not acceptable.”
Surveying a diverse sample of patients who use the Yale Diabetes Center in Connecticut, researchers found that one in four people had engaged in at least one of the following underuse behaviors in the past year due to the cost of insulin: “using less insulin than prescribed, trying to stretch out one’s prescribed insulin, taking smaller doses of insulin than prescribed, stopping the use of insulin, not filling an insulin prescription, and/or not starting insulin.”
“The data we collected speak loud and clear to the fact that cost is a huge barrier to insulin accessibility,” said Pavithra Vijayakumar, co-first author and Yale medical student. “I hope this spurs more action to help patients afford this life-sustaining medication.”