Study finds many go online to find affordable insulin

Mike Dougherty
February 26, 2020 - 4:00 am
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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Craigslist is a good place to find a used lawn mower, but if you need insulin for Type 1 diabetes, that's another story. A study from Jefferson University says people are resorting to online classifieds to get the medication they need to survive.

Buying insulin online is risky business because it's sensitive to time and temperature.

"It's the kind of thing you lose sleep over when you do this work. Why are people looking at Craigslist for this medication, and what are we doing wrong?" said Rosemary Frasso, Jefferson University's director of public health. 

She went digging online for a few weeks and found hundreds of postings for various types of insulin on Craigslist in 31 states.

She says that's alarming. 

"Seeing that this marketplace exists is just a red flag for a bigger policy issue," Frasso said. 

KYW Newsradio spoke with one person from New Jersey who posted an ad online. He explained he had leftover insulin that he didn't want to go to waste. 

"It's a good deal" he added.  

Online prices are around $30 per dose, which is approximately 10% of the price for Humalog that's at $295 on Drugs.com

"The findings of this paper illustrate that people are going to really extreme lengths to seek out affordable insulin," said Dr. Jennifer Goldstein, the program director for clinical research education at the Value Institute at Christiana Care. 

Dr. Todd Hobbs, chief medical officer at Novo Nordisk, one of the most prominent producers of insulin, said there's a lot of negotiation between pharmaceutical companies like his and the insurance companies to determine pricing. 

"There's a whole lot that goes into the price a patient sees versus the list price," Hobbs said. 

As a diabetic himself, he said there are other options for those struggling to get their medication, including coupons available for download.

"A month's supply for most patients for $99," he said.

Hobbs said if you have questions or need help paying for your medication, call 1-844-668-6463.