Iowa research center working to make insulin more affordable to people with diabetes

Iowa News

WEST DES MONIES, Iowa (WHO-TV) – An Iowa research center is bringing awareness to insulin prices on World Diabetes Day.

According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 23 million Americans have diabetes at a cost of more than $245 billion a year.

Iowa Diabetes Patient Denny Donnelly said he is shocked the insulin he has been using for decades has increased so much.

“I’ve been a diabetic for 32 years. Thirty-two years ago a little vial of insulin cost $25 and today it’s over $400,” Donnelly said.

Donnelly pays $150 for three months-worth of insulin with his health insurance.

Iowa Diabetes is a research center that conducts studies on new medications for people with the disease. One study looks into new ways to lower the cost of insulin.

According to Iowa Diabetes Founder Dr. Anuj Bharagava, “We are part of many trials for many pharmaceutical companies where they are making what I might call genetic insulin or bio-similar insulin so when these insulin come to the market hopefully the cost will be lesser.”

People that participate in a study are provided with free medicine like insulin, free medical care that is related to the study, lab tests and a stipend. Most studies last between six to 12 months.

According to Bharagava there are around 300,000 Iowans who have diabetes and that is expected to increase to 500,000 by 2030.

“What matters is that it is becoming really hard for people to afford insulin. This is not a luxury. Insulin is a necessity in diabetes and it has to be affordable,” Bharagava said.

One generic insulin brand called “ReliOn” is now sold at Walmart costing $24.88 per vial or $42.88 per box. People can get it through the pharmacy.

“There’s a lot of people that don’t have insurance. There are a lot of people as I’ve mentioned rationing their insulin because of the cost. There is some people that die from lack of insulin. If I could help get the price down, maybe develop some new type of insulin that is a lot less expensive I would be more than happy to do that,” Donnelly said.

The research center conducts around 25 studies each year, with 10 to 20 people participate per study.

People interested in participating in a study at Iowa Diabetes can sign up to qualify online. You have to have diabetes, be 18-years or older and motivated to control the disease.

For more information call (515) 329-6800.

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