Diabetic patients fear rising insulin cost: "If I don't have acc - WEEK.com: Peoria-area News, Weather, Sports

Diabetic patients fear rising insulin cost: "If I don't have access to my insulin, I will die."

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PEORIA, Ill. (WEEK) -- -

Between 2003 and 2012, the Journal of the American Medical Association says the price of insulin nearly tripled

Since then, it's doubled again.

A cost increase of insulin affects both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics, of which the Centers for Disease Control says accounts for one in every ten Americans.

"Diabetes is 365 days a year," said Diane Hemp, a nurse at OSF Children's Hospital of Illinois. "You don't get a break from it."

Hemp works with pediatric diabetes patients, and knows from personal experience what they go through since her son is also a Type 1 diabetic.

"It's scary. They have to make a choice: Do you not pay a bill and buy insulin so your child is healthy? It's scary and it's discouraging."

Hemp is talking about the trend over the past two decades, the price of insulin going from $4.34 per milliliter in 2002 to stories today of prescriptions costing over $900.

That spike has lead to a rise of diabetics rationing insulin, which include Elizabeth Gilmore - a former Canton resident now living in St. Louis.

"I actually have gallon-sized ziplock baggies (full of insulin.) I don't actually throw out any of my old vials, just because I don't know if I'll lose my health insurance," Gilmore said. "It's definitely one of those things where you'd wanna have some, rather than none."

Gilmore isn't the only one. The price is so high now that diabetic patients constantly worry about every month's prescription. 

"Literally if I didn't have my insurance, it would take my entire paycheck just to buy one vial of insulin," claimed Haylee Hasty of Pekin.

Even for those who have lived with diabetes all their life, the cost looms on the mind. Especially for students.

"I'll have to learn to make enough money to balance both that - like paying off those (student) loans, and affording my medical supplies on top of that," admitted Sean Rogers, a Freshman at Illinois State University.

Insurance Companies blame drug makers on the price hike, and drug makers blame them in return. Caught in the middle: the people who require insulin to live.

"I want people to realize that if I don't have access to my insulin, I will die," said Gilmore. "Like, there's no: 'Well, sometimes, you have to go without.' Nope. I die. The end."

There's a class-action lawsuit currently in litigation against the top three insulin manufacturers, accusing them of price fixation.

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