(washington d.c.) – The WE the government’s failure to ensure equal and affordable access to insulin violates the right to health of people with diabetes and regularly results in tragic consequences for many of them, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.
The 92-page report, “If I Run Out of Insulin, I’ll Die:” United States’ Lack of regulation is fueling the unaffordable insulin crisis,” describes the human rights impacts of US government policies that make essential life-saving drugs like insulin unaffordable for many people. Human Rights Watch found that exorbitant insulin prices and inadequate health insurance coverage can cause people to pay high prices for insulin, contributing to dangerous and potentially deadly drug rationing, forcing people to forego drugs. other basic needs and disproportionately affecting socially and economically marginalized groups.
“People who need insulin shouldn’t have to break the bank just to survive, but in the United States they often do,” said Matt McConnelleconomic justice and human rights researcher Human Rights Watch. “Because the United States does not regulate drug prices or provide adequate coverage of insulin costs, countless people who cannot afford expensive insulin are not only straining their financial resources, but pay with their health, life and livelihood.”
About 27 million adults in United States been diagnostic with diabetes, and about 8 million adults use one or more types of insulin to regulate their blood sugar. Without it, people can have high blood sugar or hyperglycemia, which can lead to serious and even fatal complications. But in the United States, the most commonly prescribed form of this lifesaving drug –insulin analogues – may cost more than $300 for a single vial, easily adding up to more than $1,000 one month if they do not have adequate health insurance coverage.
The drivers of these high prices are clear. Unlike most other countries, the United States does not directly regulate drug prices. There is no system to establish a fair price for drugs before they enter the market or to restrict the extent to which manufacturers or intermediaries can raise prices. Price of analogue insulin in the United States are more than eight times the average of 32 other countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
“We are the richest country in the world, but people have to go without drugs,” said Emily Grant29 years old, from Dallas, TX, discussing the cost of his insulin. “I can’t do anything about the trajectory of my disease except follow the treatment plans that my doctors tell me. And I don’t think it’s okay to say, ‘Well, either you indulge yourself, either you die.'”
Human Rights Watch interviewed 50 people, including 31 with chronic conditions, including 18 with insulin-dependent diabetes. Human Rights Watch also reviewed numerous secondary sources and publicly available price data for three of the most widely used insulin analogues: Humalog, Novolog, and Lantus. Each of these drugs is produced by one of the three multinational pharmaceutical manufacturers that collectively dominate the global insulin market, respectively: the American company Eli Lily; danish society Novo Nordisk; and French society Sanofi.
April 12, 2022 “If I run out of insulin, I will die”
United States’ Lack of regulation is fueling the unaffordable insulin crisis
— Download the full report in English
— Annex : Human Rights Watch correspondence
These manufacturers have raised the prices of these drugs by hundreds of percentage points, after adjusting for inflation, since their introduction to the market in the late 1990s and early 2000s, according to information from these companies. submitted government inquiries and other publicly available data Human Rights Watch saw again. Although these rapid price increases have slowed or ceased in recent years under the scrutiny of policy makers, patients, advocates and the media, the prices are still high and damaging the lives of people who have no no adequate health insurance or charitable assistance to help mitigate costs. .
Almost all of the insulin-dependent people surveyed said they had rationed analogue insulin because it was so expensive, taking less medication than recommended by their doctor to expand their supply. Human Rights Watch also found that high out-of-pocket expenses can hurt the standard of living of people who need insulin, as a higher percentage of their income is spent on this life-saving drug instead of other basic needs, such as food, rent and accommodation.
High drug cost charges are inherently regressive, as poorer people have to pay a much higher share of their income for their drugs, all other factors being equal. Communities that have been historically marginalized, discriminated against, and underserved in the United States are also disproportionately affected both by diabetes and his negative health effects. For example, although approximately 356 people with diabetes suffered amputation of a lower limb every day in the United States in 2016, black adults were more than twice as likely to have a diabetes-related amputation as white adults.
Unaffordable insulin violates human rights under international law, including the right to best achievable state of healththe right to equal and affordable access to essential medicines, the right to equal protection before the law and to non-discrimination, and the right to an adequate standard of living.
The US government should adopt policies to ensure that essential medicines like insulin are affordable for everyone who needs them, regardless of insurance, wealth or citizenship status. This may require legislation to lower and regulate the prices of essential drugs like insulin. Congress should also improve the affordability and availablity quality health insurance for low- and middle-income people.
Government regulations notwithstanding, all companies also have a responsibility respect human rights and ensure that they do not cause or contribute to human rights abuses in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Companies that play a role in drug pricing, including pharmaceutical manufacturers, drug benefit managers, health plan providers, and pharmacies, should take steps to identify and rectify practices that contribute to making insulin unaffordable for people who need it.
“Our system of high, unregulated and often unmitigated drug prices is cruel and regressive, and has allowed companies to rip off some of the nation’s most vulnerable people for a product they can’t live without,” McConnell said. . “But we have the tools to solve this crisis.”