Insulin Manufacturers

So, Two articles posted by @Tim35 really got me thinking the other day and I haven’t really been able to stop.

Discrimination Article

Price of insulin article

‘Price of insulin’ article said that, in my lifetime, the price of insulin had increased 700%. There are three main companies that manufacture insulin. That causes concerns if there’s a hurricane that wipes out one of the plants - like what happened recently with IV bag supplies. Also, how could this be addressed? We know that people ration their insulin because of this and it causes lots of suffering and financial hardship. I always thought this might be better addressed by medicaid/medicare. But, no dice.

Possible solutions?

1.) I thought that we could all strike and refuse to pay increased price for insulin and only use the $20 Walmart brand unless they lowered prices.

2.) I asked an engineer who thought that it might take 5 Million dollars to start exploring insulin manufacturing techniques that might enable us to set up a small manufacturer. That doesn’t seem like that much. My state’s DMV computer system cost well in excess of that. That’s not really very much money.

Question: Why does insulin cost the same no matter where you buy it? I bought it in China and France and both times expected to pay less than in America. I paid the same. How much does it cost in Canada?

I pay about $36 for a vial of NovoRapid or Fiasp. Humalog is about the same. Apidra is a bit more, but not much more. When I tried MDI it was around $70 for 5 rapid penfill cartridges and $130 for 5 Levemir cartridges. Pens are free. I was able to purchase boxes of 5 Tresiba pens for $27 from Rexall. I don’t know how this is possible and wonder if Novo is subsidizing it to get people hooked. Either way as you can see it’s a lot cheaper up here. I am self-employed and don’t have private insurance since it’s cheaper just to buy insulin over the counter (and less hassle, since no prescription needed) for me.



As far as I know USA is the only country where they charge $600-700 for a pack of 5 pens of modern insulin (either from Lilly or Novo), if you are paying out of pocket. It cost $50-100-150 for exactly the same thing in the rest of the world.

Exactly. If it was really this cheap, somebody else would already have done it.

My guess based on nothing would be well into the hundreds of millions of dollars. Half a Billion maybe? With considerable risk as if there ends up a problem and/or FDA clearance / approval is not obtained, everything would be lost. The cost to borrow such money would be high as it would be high risk.

Just my guess. Based on no experience and no information.
ha ha ha
Kind of like picking a horse at the track.

The insulin manufacturers have made sure there are FDA rules in place that would make manufacturing cheap generic insulin just about impossible. Which is why even though patents have been long expired on some like Humalog, no one is making any generic equivalents.

hahaha I need that shirt.

Re: the discrimination article. It seems to me that PWD’s don’t generally think they have a disability, it’s only the people who employ them who think they are disabled.

This is not too far a step from racial or gender discrimination. I’m surprised that the government missed this on the first go around of the ADA.

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I only get 2 tresiba pens and cost $30

We are subsidizing the rest of the world drug prices

All right, Devils Advocates, I accept your argument on point #2. What about point #1? Would that work? I think I could survive 6 months on the cheap stuff. Do you think you could? My last Doc would be pretty angry about this idea. But, I think I could. I think she was a scaredy cat.



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I totally agree. Clearly the insulin works. And would be a great approach if your financial and insurance situation were to take a turn for the worse. You may have the proper personality to do this to make the point. Likely you would have to make certain dosing adjustment to compensate for use of different insulin. I have no doubt you would make this work.


The likelihood of getting a critical mass of people to switch to a cheaper product to make a statement is relative low. You might have a better chance of randomly picking the trifecta at your local racetrack. Even if you did get a critical mass to make the switch for six months, most of the companies involved have very deep pockets. They would almost certainly be more than willing to suck it up and take short term losses so as to protect their long term gains. Bottom line - their financials could outlast your motivation. Probably.

I think Congress is the best approach. Which admittedly is a very sad approach. No partisan leanings - I just think regardless of whichever party is in power that Congress is typically dysfunctional. But every now and then they provide a welcome surprise. The government is already involved in having laws, policies and practices that allow major drug companies to operate the way they operate.

Ugh…That’s the hardest thing of all. I thought maybe they had set a precedent with the epipen that would get us there. I don’t understand why medicare isn’t making a stink about price fixing.

On option #2, I dont think we would say outright that we were trying to undercut the market. We would ask for money to ‘explore’ alternate manufacturing techniques. If we could make a small batch, the money would follow. They did it in the 20’s! How hard could it be? I don’t know anything about insulin manufacturing, and I accept that trouble from the FDA would follow, but there must be an easier way than going to congress. This is how I imagine that going…

If its anywhere as difficult as dealing with the DMV, we is screwed. The only trick that I have found to get a moment of attention from important people is to paint something AMAZING and ask them to sign it. That usually buys a few critical seconds of dialog because they stop to look at it. Maybe something like that could work - being a fan of the legislature. That’s how I got Body Millers signature after he won gold at the Olympics.

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I find it hilarious that any time you talk about something incredibly complicated being fixed, you often compare it to the horrors of the DMV.

The DMV where you live must be a true nightmare because I’ve always thought insurance and drug pricing was WAAAAAY more of a hassle and complicated than any DMV interactions I’ve experienced.

hehehe. I am OBSESSED with the DMV computer system. I believe that it is controlled by the devil. I have been researching it. It cost 90 million dollars. It must be destroyed.

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lol. You truly are obsessed :rofl:

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It doesn’t, always. It really depends on the country. I have a friend who buys his Apidra in Austria for a fraction of what I pay here. Each country goes its own way. Some are user friendly, some are the opposite.

Hospitals charge a ton of money too. They’re hardly blameless for the rise in healthcare costs. I feel like these hospitals are just the pot calling the kettle black.

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