A diabetic man’s death in Virginia just after he aged out of a family health insurance plan is highlighting the deadly penalties of the skyrocketing costs of insulin.
Wilkerson, who had type 1 diabetes, could not afford to purchase the prescription brand of insulin he wanted — at a value of 1,200 USD per month — so he settled for less-effective, over-the-counter insulin at a tenth of the worth: $25 a vial at Walmart.
The “human” insulin predates “analog” insulin, which is genetically altered to manage glucose within the blood more quickly or more uniformly. Certainly, analog insulin can take effect in just 20 minutes, in comparison with four hours for human insulin, reports the Washington Post.
The outcome, for Wilkerson, was deadly. A just few hours after taking a dose in June, the 27-year-old fell right into a coma with blood sugar levels 17 times larger than normal and ultimately suffered a number of strokes.
Human insulin is especially risky for sufferers with type 1 diabetes, as they’re more prone to have to seesaw blood sugar levels. “There’s a whole lot of room for error,” so a health provider must be concerned, one advocate tells the Post.
That’s not all the time an option for lower-income diabetics. As the price of analog insulin has nearly tripled since 2002, patients have been forced to ration the drug, travel to Canada for cheaper vials, file for bankruptcy, or turn to human insulin as Wilkerson did, per People.
Saving up for an October wedding, “we figured, ‘Hey, it’s $25. We will do that,'” fiancee Rose Walters tells the Post. She discovered Wilkerson at the dog kennel, where he earned $16.50 an hour.