r/news Jan 14 '22 Silver 19 Gold 1 Helpful 19 Wholesome 18 Evil Cackle 3

Shkreli ordered to return $64M, is barred from drug industry


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u/the_busticated_one Jan 14 '22

Last time I checked, cash price for 10 days of insulin for my kid was $300. Granted, that's been 3 or 4 years, so I'm sure it's increased.

Literally, just the vial of insulin. That's not syringes, test strips, etc.


u/thrilla-noise Jan 14 '22

and literally the same drug from the same factory in the same quantity is around $20 OTC in Canada without any insurance.


u/16semesters Jan 15 '22

To be fair, NPH and Regular insulin is about 25$ USD without insurance in America.

The expensive insulins are far better medications though, and those are the expensive ones.

Walmart's other ReliOn insulins — NPH, Regular, and 70/30 mix — are all human insulin rather than analog insulin,and sell for about $25 a vial.



u/thrilla-noise Jan 15 '22

Yeah, there are shit insulins that don’t work as well available cheap. That’s true. They aren’t equivalent to drugs like Humalog, and aren’t fast acting enough to be used in pumps.

There is zero reason for Humalog to cost what it does in the US other than greed.

Humalog is over 25 years old, but has consistently gone up in cost. Humalog specifically is around $20 OTC with no insurance in Canada, and an exactly identical product is several hundred dollars in the US.


u/shieldoversword Jan 15 '22

You actually want both fast acting and slow release insulin variants for an insulin regimen. The slow release helps you manage your blood sugar between meals and the fast release stuff helps you put away the large influx of glucose that happens with bigger meals. The Walmart brand is a mix of both that you’re supposed to take with breakfast and dinner, the fast component helps with the meal and the slow component helps you in between.

So I wouldn’t say it’s “shit” tier bad, but it’s not really ideal compared with the usual regimen given to new type II diabetics with basal insulin once a day and bolus insulin three times daily with meals.

Insulin pumps are not super common, probably more so in type I diabetics that need a constant supply of insulin since their body isn’t producing any anymore.

But in general, yeah insulin is way too expensive here for being an absolutely essential drug, and it basically turns diabetes into a life altering disease for a lot of people who don’t have insurance or the financial means to afford insulin, since they’re unlikely to manage it well and end up with serious kidney disease, loss of vision, neuropathy, etc


u/thrilla-noise Jan 15 '22

You actually want both fast acting and slow release insulin variants for an insulin regimen.

Not if you use a pump.

Also the Walmart stuff is a shitty slow acting insulin too. Lantus is what you want, and it’s also criminally overpriced in the US.

The walmart stuff is slower than fast acting insulin and faster than slow acting.

So I wouldn’t say it’s “shit” tier bad,

It’s definitely inferior to insulins that have been widely available for a quarter century. Maybe not shit-tier, but definitely shittier.

Insulin pumps are not super common, probably more so in type I diabetics

Insulin pumps are common in type 1 diabetics.

But in general, yeah insulin is way too expensive here for being an absolutely essential drug,

Yep. It’s bullshit. No reason for it.


u/the_busticated_one Jan 15 '22

You actually want both fast acting and slow release insulin variants for an insulin regimen.

From the perspective of the parent of a T1D:

Not if you're managing with a pump. (of course, those weigh in about $4-5k for the pump, plus consumables)

It may have changed in the last couple of years, but 'state of the art' pumps 6 years ago used fast-acting insulin, configured for a basal rate over the course of the day, coupled with a bolus at meals. The pump basically used fast-acting insulin over time to mimic the effect of a slow acting insulin.

There wasn't a need for a slow-acting insulin as long as the pump was functioning properly. That said, we still kept it around.


u/thrilla-noise Jan 15 '22

It may have changed in the last couple of years,

It has not changed. The only thing that changed is that fast acting insulin is double the cost.


u/the_busticated_one Jan 15 '22


Thankfully, I've got good insurance with decent copays.

My son was diagnosed with Type 1 in 2012 (they're an adult now), and I'll never forget the conversation with the pharmacist when we picked up that first batch of supplies - insulin, needles, test strips, ketone test strips, etc, etc.

He puts 2 Kmart shopping bags - filled to busting - on the counter and says "So, would you like the good news? Or the bad news?"

I asked him for the good news: "Good news is, you've got really good insuranance. "

So, I asked him for the bad news: "Well, the total is $615 today."

Between that, and the medical bills, even with insurance it was an expensive month.


u/thrilla-noise Jan 15 '22

It’s basically like having an extra mortgage/rent payment for life, and if you lose your job it doubles (because you lose your insurance with your job).


u/shieldoversword Jan 15 '22

Yeah, of course. Most of what I’m experienced in treating is T2DM. T1DM is relatively much more rare and I didn’t want to conflate the issue by going into differences, but yes t1DM needs tighter control and has no base insulin production so much more need for a constant pump, which uses exclusively short acting. My whole point was that it wasn’t as simple as “Walmart insulin bad” but I guess I did a poor job of making that case.


u/thrilla-noise Jan 15 '22

Walmart insulin is not equivalent to Humalog. They are different medications and they work differently.

Humalog in Canada is about $20 OTC and hundreds of dollars in the US.

I’m sure you mean well, but it’s frustrating that every time the US cost for rapid acting, standard of care, modern insulin like Humalog/Novalog is brought up, a chorus of people chime in about a non-equivalent insulin that Walmart sells.

Walmart insulin is just not the same medication as Humalog. While Walmart insulin can be used to (poorly) manage T1D, there is no reason people should need to resort to it. Humalog should not cost what it does in the US.


u/shieldoversword Jan 15 '22 edited Jan 15 '22

First of all, same team. Even the Walmart insulin is overpriced IMO, it’s just unfortunately the best value we have.

Humalog and novolog are not the same as Walmarts 70/30 insulin, and I never said it was. Like you said, the Walmart 70/30 is older, but it’s not as much about that as it is about the timing of how it works. Humalog and Novolog are the most rapid onset/offset drugs we have, they make it easier to control glucose spikes because they’ll treat it as soon as they’re given and won’t stick around for too long after to cause hypoglycemia. The walmart 70/30 uses a combination of long acting NPH insulin (not as long acting as lantus, but similar concept with twice daily dosing instead of once) and regular insulin (slower onset and longer acting than Humalog/Novolog are, but also similar concept).

You seem to be focused on type 1 DM. They aren’t producing any insulin on their own so precise dosing of rapid acting insulin is essential, otherwise you’re risking very high highs and low lows. Typically a pump is optimal for continuous glucose infusion with these patients, also preferably in conjunction with a continuous glucose monitor if possible. All of this stuff costs way too much in our current health care system and it’s a travesty. That said, you can still treat it with a standard basal bonus dosing regimen or the Walmart version of that, it’s just especially not ideal for type 1 diabetics because the longer onset/offset is going to make it a lot harder to get good control without risking hypoglycemic episodes.

For type 2 DM (90-95% of diabetics), things are a bit more forgiving in that they do produce their own insulin, the problem is that their body has just seen so much insulin signaling that it starts to tune it out, developing insulin resistance. But they’re still making insulin in most cases, so it’s more forgiving to treat than T1DM. In these patients, we still would rather treat them with a daily basal dose of insulin (Glargine/lantus) which will provide constant insulin coverage all day without peaks that will cause hypoglycemia, then if that’s not enough they also get boluses of shorter acting insulin (pref humalog/novolog or lispro/aspart) three times daily with meals to control spikes in glucose from meals (gold standard basal-bolus regimen) . The Walmart insulin is still not ideal here since the shorter acting NPH can cause unpredictable peaks (no peak effect from lantus) and the shorter acting insulin is also more likely to cause peaks and valleys in blood glucose around meal times , but it can mimic this coverage with appropriate modification of its dosing regimen. The ultimate goal with T2DM is to work on lifestyle modification and use other non-insulin meds to get and keep them off insulin entirely, so with a good PCP or endocrinologist they might not need to take insulin for all that long. However non-insulin diabetes meds can also be very expensive, with the newer (and better) ones like trulicity costing thousands of dollars out of pocket if insurance won’t pay.

In conclusion, I think Walmart insulin does an ok job meeting demand for insulin in diabetics who otherwise can’t afford it (more so for T2DM), and it’s unfortunately the best we can do for a lot of poor diabetics out there now, but we can do much much better at making diabetes meds more affordable and accessible in the US, we are by no means in a good place with DM treatment in this country.

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