February 20, 2019 – Better Insulin?


Anchor lead: What are the alternatives to sky high insulin prices? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Insulin, the injectable drug that brings blood sugar down in millions of people with diabetes, has been around for decades. Why then is the price of insulin front and center when it comes to Congressional investigation of drug prices? Rita Kalyani, a diabetes expert at Johns Hopkins, says insulin comes in many types, and it’s the newer forms that are so very expensive.

Kalyani: The newer insulins often can be better for patients in terms of quality of life. Many patients prefer to take them because they don’t have as much low blood glucose or hypoglycemia, you can take them with your meal, you don’t have to wait necessarily a long period of time before eating and they tend to have a longer duration of action so some of them can reduce the frequency of injection, so for this reason we tend to prefer them clinically, but when you look at the cost of these insulins and how much some of our patients have to pay they may not be the preferred insulin.  :30

Kalyani notes that many people with diabetes can switch to the older, cheaper forms of insulin with no lasting compromise of controlling blood sugar. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.