Why Are Life-Saving Drugs in the U.S. So Expensive

By  //  January 17, 2022

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Did you know that insulin belongs to medical preparations that have literary changed the world? While being a life-saving drug, it substantially increases the life expectancy of people who live with diabetes mellitus.

However, insulin (similar to other life-saving drugs) is becoming more and more expensive from year to year in the U.S. Why is it so? Check out the top-3 reasons for it by means of going through the article below.

Insulin As a Life-Saving Diabetes Medication

The main diabetes treatment is the intake of insulin products. The thing is that insulin injections (no matter whether we are talking about short-acting insulin, regular insulin, or long-acting insulin) have the power to lower high blood sugar levels (or blood glucose levels, as it is also called). Therefore, they might not only make the life of a diabetic more comfortable but also substantially prolong it these days.

Up until the discovery of insulin in 1921, people with diabetes mellitus were forced to stick to a harsh diet that did not exceed 500 calories a day. Moreover, their life expectancy was very low. After being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, patients were predicted to live less than three years. Therefore, insulin might be fairly regarded as a life-saving medication for people who live with diabetes mellitus.

Top-3 Reasons for High Prices for Life-Saving Drugs in the U.S.

A huge problem of the 21st century U.S. lies in high drug prices for different kinds of life-saving pharmaceuticals, including insulin. There exists a wide range of reasons why it is so. Let us take a look at the three main ones.

Reason #1: Little Competition in the Diabetes-Related Sphere

Despite the fact that the contemporary pharmaceutical industry in the U.S. enumerates a great number of manufacturers, there is very little competition in the diabetes-related sphere. Namely, only 3 companies (Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi) occupy more than 90 percent of the overall insulin market by means of manufacturing well-known insulin brands. Moreover, it happens sometimes that only one company out of the above-mentioned three functions as a country’s supplier of insulin. As a result, there occurs a so-called pharmaceutical monopoly, that might set any price for it.

Reason #2: Absence of Generic Diabetes Preparations

As a side note: Generic drugs are cheaper alternatives to brand-name drugs (while their quality, safety, dosage, administration, and other characteristics are preserved). In other words, a generic product is the exact same drug as a brand-name one however with a smaller price tag.

Due to the fact that insulin is a biological product rather than a chemically synthesized one, it cannot be manufactured by means of following the standard scheme of generic drug production.  Namely, it is much more expensive to create a “biosimilar” product than to simply duplicate a chemical one (since a manufacturer will have to spend a substantial drug development cost). Furthermore, the “biosimilar” insulin that is available on the market these days has managed to cut the price by only 15 percent. Therefore, the creation of a generic diabetes preparation is not a solid way out when it comes to the need to lower drug prices.

Reason #3: Marketing Schemes of Pharmaceutical Companies

In the U.S., health care practitioners might collect fees from pharmaceutical companies for mentioning their products. So, the more they talk about a certain medication, the greater amount of revenue they can get. As a result, it is not their top priority to mention the cheapest diabetes-related medication. Otherwise, they become interested in talking about a product of a pharmaceutical company that is ready to pay for it.

Affordable Canadian Insulin as an Alternative to High Drug Prices in the U.S.

Luckily, there exists a solid way out for people who live in the U.S. and want to look for lower-cost insulin. Namely, they might order the needed product from Canadian pharmacies. This way, diabetics might save up to 90 percent on every single vial of their diabetes medications.

The main reason why insulin from Canada (no matter whether we are talking about Southern, Northern, or Central Canada) costs less than the one at local pharmacies in the U.S. lies in the fact that the Canadian government has its own principle of rationing insulin and other life-saving medications (such as cancer drugs). Consequently, they make sure that the cost of these products is affordable for all people. In other words, you might buy insulin (and other life-saving drugs) online for life-saving prices in Canada.

As a side note: Please take into account that while it might be technically illegal to buy insulin from Canada, Canadian drug companies might still lawfully get your insulin shipped to you to the U.S. However, the quantity of the medication should not exceed a three-month supply for your personal use (based on the required regular intake of the medication that is mentioned in a valid prescription from a health care practitioner).

A Bottom Line

All in all, there are several reasons why life-saving drugs in the U.S. are so expensive. However, there also exists a couple of ways of how to buy insulin for a cheaper price and fight its high costs. For instance, you might consider buying insulin online from Canada instead of purchasing it at a local pharmacy. So, remember that you always have an option to buy Canadian insulin and, therefore, benefit from a reasonable drug pricing system.