Another unfortunate casualty of the Insulin pricing

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And yet we got by with the old insulins for many years. They weren’t ideal but if the old insulins were so dangerous, I suspect 10 years from now, folk will look back on the current meds and wonder how in the heck anyone survived. Medicine always advances despite the concept of entropy.


So very sad.

I did the same thing, multiplied 83 x 17 and got 1411 and my mouth dropped open.

My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.

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I’m with @Dave44 on this one. I started with regular and nph in 1983. Those insulins suck compared to the rapid acting variety, they’ll keep you alive. This story is sad, but highly sensationalized.


Well, hm. For the record, I ran on R/N for 20 years, so yeah, you can survive on it. Coupla things though. I didn’t start OUT on modern analog insulins. It also looks like these guys were trying to run exclusively on R, though it’s not exactly clear. But neither R nor N is a basal insulin as we know it, and depending on your individual metabolism you can go into DKA pretty fast without something approximating a basal insulin. So yeah we survived on that stuff, but we were also trained up on it. I guess if your point is “what a stupid idiot, he died!” I have to part company with that opinion. I don’t think he was a stupid idiot, I think the system we have failed.


I’m sorry for his family, and it’s a terrible loss however, if he had a doctor or clinic dispensing RX for newer insulin products, he might have gotten them to prescribe doses of other replacement products for the time he needed them. Insulin in and of itself was an amazing invention and people have lived and survived on the older products for many years.

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I think it’s likely the article got that “17x” thing wrong. I don’t think that’s particularly important. Whatever the number was, it was enough to put him in DKA. Which isn’t all that hard to do.

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The problem is if stories like this don’t fix anything, but make the cheaper $20 insulins go away.

Legislators might think that eliminating over-the-counter insulins would help, but that makes it worse. Having NO insulin is worse than the $20 stuff.

I lived 24 years on non-rapid insulin. And 28 years with NPH as my only basal. That’s much longer than I would’ve lived without that stuff.

I am glad there is $20 stuff available for emergencies.


I used R/NPH animal insulin for three years and also injected Humulin R, the insulin in the story. While I’ve abundant experience with analog insulin, this account and others make me wonder just how well I would manage if I suddenly needed to switch and my access to health care was hampered by a low income.

Using Walmart Humulin R and NPH is tricky business, especially if you’re flying blind without an expensive CGM to guide you. I never achieved consistent utility with those insulins, certainly didn’t master them. Given more time and effort I may have been able to take up a more sophisticated multi-dose NPH regimen and pay closer attention to pre-bolus times with the R. NPH chains you to the clock!

My BG swung wildly with many hypo crashes, no way for anyone to be forced to live.

More education and medical supervision may have helped but people earning $16/hour don’t typically enjoy access to those luxuries.


I don’t get the “he’s a stupid idiot and died” vibe from anyone. I do think that there is a lot of information left out of this story, either from not investigating enough, or purposely trying to incite rage. @Eric2 is absolutely right, that this story could lead to consequences with outlawing certain insulins that the diabetes community relies on. I’m still confused about the part of the story of him spending $1200 a month on insulin that cost $25 a vial.


I thought it was that he couldn’t afford the higher priced insulin, which cost him $1200 a month, so he went to the $25.00 a vial, but I could have read it wrong.

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I’ve read it a couple of times now, but still don’t know what they’re trying to convey. The part is its own 3 sentence paragraph with no context. Very poorly written article, which is sad because they could’ve hit big pharma and the US health care system hard. They chose the softer human tragedy story, which is more suited for the Olympics TV coverage.

He turned 27 and came off of his step-father’s insurance. Through the age of 26 children can be on a parent’s health insurance, but once they hit 27, they are off of it. That’s when everything turned around for him; his insulin needs were in the $1,200 range and he couldn’t afford it any longer (without his step-father’s insurance).

Edited to add: I have the age wrong. They are insured until they hit age 26, not age 27. Sorry about that.

I still think it’s a very poorly constructed article, void of facts that any seasoned diabetic would want to know. My first thought was, what was he eating? He knew he was losing his benefits way ahead of time, did he make any dietary changes? Blaming cheap insulin on his death, is not fair because there were definitely other contributing factors.


Unless he wasn’t testing either, I don’t get it. I have my dog who is type 1 on the 12 hour (Novolin N) stuff as it’s easier because it’s too hard to test her all day and give fast acting. And you can’t count on a dog telling you they’re low. We aim to be in the 100-150 range and I do give her humalog sometimes if we give her something like pizza. Otherwise a shot of Novolin N 2x a day, with approximately the same carb count everyday.

So letting it hit 1400? I really don’t understand that. Unless he didn’t have a clue about carbs and dosing. These stories are always sad and very frustrating because they never give you the whole picture of why it happened.


You’re dog eats pizza?!!! That’s too funny. I can’t get our cat to eat people food, not even cheese.

Cats are much pickier eaters in general. This dog will eat basically almost anything food wise.

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This is the first cat I’ve been around that did not have any interest in people food. His loss, I tried to introduce him to things he would have liked, he’s just dumb.

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Marie - does your dog do pizza better than most diabetics or do you need to give it multiple bolus injections over 6-8 hours?

Somehow I feel cheated - your diabetic dog does pizza better than I do

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I haven’t seen any legislators suggesting anything like that and I don’t know how or why they would. What I do see a lot more of out there is that “hey, you can buy it cheap at Walmart” acting as an excuse for doing nothing about the ludicrously inflated price of analog insulin in this country. To me, that’s the much greater concern, and this story is a counter to it.

It’s a tough bind, because we DO want people to know about R/N—for my part I go out of my way to post about it when these sorts of stories come up—but it’s also NOT an equivalent for modern insulin or an adequate substitute. It will keep you alive if you know what you’re doing, but as this story witnesses, you really do have to know. It puts you in a very different, much more constricted pattern of organizing your life around your medication (I used to call it the Eat Now Or Die! regimen) which is nothing like what people like this guy, who were brought up on analogs, are used to. “Eat what you want, just bolus for it” is not a good fit with this stuff. And if you’re resorting to it because you’ve aged our of your parents’ coverage or otherwise lost your insurance, you also don’t have access to a physician who can help with any of that.