Home | About | Donate

The Insulin Racket

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/06/24/insulin-racket


Excellent piece. The Warren legislation should be made a top priority. Insulin should be manufactured by the government and sold at cost. Anything else is barbaric.


“In the case of Medicare Part D, government negotiating of drug prices is explicitly illegal.” More proof that this corporate capitalistic government is immoral.


Congress is completely owned by the drug companies. Their lobbyists and executives are now literally running the departments and agencies. It used to be they used stooges. Now they’ve thrown away the fig leaf. E.g. Alex Azar.


well now, let’s not leave out petrochemical, insurance corps and big ag and the damage they do along with big pharma


Wow, humanity as a group are now officially slaves of the drug companies. It seems that this should be unconstitutional—doesn’t it? We are still so far away from that, “More Perfect Union.”

1 Like

T1 International publishes data on the out-of-pocket cost of rapid-acting insulin in different countries. Here is their most recent data from 2016 for Humalog (the Lilly Drug mentioned in the article) in dollars per ml:

U.S. $13.57
Chile $6.95
Canada $3.16
Brazil $2.57
India $2.30
Japan $2.00
Rwanda $0.10
France, Italy, Lithuania, and Portugal $0


Not mentioned are the millions stuffed in pols’ pockets by Big Pharma to ensure obscene profit über alles, and certain death for those unable to hold up under the crushing weight of “what the market will bear”.

“Promote the general welfare” rings as hollow as the empty souls who subvert it in service to mammon.


Johnson and Johnson, Purdue and Teva would disagree with you. There’s more going on between the government and pharma than most people understand. J&J is the largest pharmaceutical company in the world by a decent margin, and they’re being threatened to be sued out of existence at the moment with no Congressional intervention. Oddly enough, they’re being sued on the one thing they haven’t done wrong, which is a hint that not all is as it seems in the world of pharma power.

Make no mistake: this threw my own narrative for a large loop, too. I have as long an antipathy toward pharma as any other lefty. Until my own survival got put on the block. There’s some sort of internal civil war going on in the industry at multiple levels, and I suspect that the gouging is one element of that conflict (along with my own personal mission, preserving opiate therapy in a witch hunt environment).

At the heart of it is likely the system of patents, of course. Exactly what’s going on even industry insiders I know personally and work with every day aren’t even sure which way the wind is blowing and in whose favor it’s blowing.

I will agree that price controls are needed immediately throughout the entire industry, but we need to walk cautiously through pharma issues right now.


“Don’t forget…” The doctors. Someone taking long-term or chronic meds can pick it up at a pharmacy directly in most countries, but a visit with a doctor for a renewed prescription is required on a regular basis in the US. With devices like blood sugar monitors and blood pressure monitors, the doctor visit should not be necessary.


The caution you advise is good, but as another poster has noted, it is greed that makes Pharma on the wrong side of the issue. Yes, they are entitled to profits, and yes as you noted patents are part of the equation, but in the end it is simply greed that causes the problems.

Insulin is cheap to produce. It’s been around for a century or more.

If corporate heads cannot do the right thing, then regulation is the only remedy.

1 Like

OK, consider this comparison:

On the one hand you have drug dealers meeting in their cartels to set prices for insulin, or whatever drug. They know that if they set the price WAY TOO high, so many people will die that they won’t make money. But if it’s too low and everyone can afford it, they aren’t maximizing their profit. So in order to maximize their profit, a certain percentage of deaths in their market is considered, not just acceptable, but optimal.

Then on the other hand, you have war. The thugs in power say that a certain level of collateral damage is unavoidable, you can’t kill all of the bad guys without killing a bunch of the not-as-bad guys. Of course, the easiest thing would be to just kill everyone, which the politicians don’t care about because they think it’s a S(&^hole country anyway (yeah, all of them think that, even if only one said it–actions speak louder than words,) But in that case, they would lose support and the war profiteers–let’s not forget that profit is the whole point of war–would take a financial hit.

So, what’s the difference between health care and war? My point is that when it comes to every venture in capitalism, if they can make a profit by killing people, they will. And WE’RE made to feel guilty if we aren’t proud capitalists?

1 Like

Sure the generics producing companies would love to steal market share from the big companies, but they are as greedy as the big boys. The main issue is not the argy bargy between drug companies, it’s that people are dying and going bankrupt because of the total control of congress by drug companies. I agree with Dean Baker that the patent system should be scrapped and replaced.

Wow, I wasn’t sure what kind of volumes we were talking about here. But I just got this equivalence: 1 ml = 1/5 teaspoon. I’m interested in this because I have been driving around my friend’s brother-in-law who has type 1 diabetes (and glaucoma so he can’t see well enough to drive). He had a bit of trouble getting his latest blood tests done, because you have to have not eaten for 12 hours or whatever it is before getting your blood taken. But a bunch of times his blood sugar level got too low before we could go so he had to drink some apple juice to avoid becoming hypoglycemic. And then there goes your fast.

1 Like

For the diabetic person 1 ml is also called 100 units and a typical dosage of Humalog might be 65 units a day for an average weight diabetic (i.e. this is potent so you don’t really take that much).

Note - the survey I was quoting above is in terms of average out-of-pocket costs since that is most relevant to what people can afford. Since most diabetic people have insurance, the actual cost is much higher - but the bottom line is that spending around $5000 a year on your insulin is quite typical and some people with bad insurance have to pay much more (and the group with bad insurance are the working class medicaid ineligible population who can least afford it). People shouldn’t have to move to France to be able to afford their life-saving insulin.

1 Like

So true, a big mistake to not include “medical Providers” if that term is still used. Pain control is another racket used to force people to make office visits at least monthly in some cases. Although many do require “pain control care” for terminal and or chronic illnesses, many others become addicted simply because the “doctors” need them to keep coming in for their prescriptions.

1 Like