(2010; 5 pages)
Nearly ninety years after its discovery, access to insulin is beyond the reach of millions of people with diabetes around the world. Access to insulin is an essential and non-negotiable need, in short, a matter of life or death.
In many low- and middle-income countries, the availability of insulin in the public sector is often poor. Therefore, people with diabetes are either forced to purchase insulin in the private sector at its full price, use less than the prescribed amount so that their supply lasts longer, or go without. Serious complications result from suboptimal treatment, such as blindness and amputations, and pre-mature death.
To illustrate the issue of high prices and unaffordable treatment, Health Action International (HAI) undertook a one day global ‘snapshot’ of the price of insulin.
Individuals from 60 countries collected the price which a patient would have to pay, if they paid the retail price (as opposed to a co-payment amount where reimbursement systems exist), for a 10ml traditional vial of 100 IU/ml soluble human insulin injection (regular, neutral) in their closest private retail pharmacy on 11 May 2010. Prices were collected for insulin manufactured by three multinational companies Novo Nordisk, Eli Lilly and Sanofi Aventis, plus the lowest priced insulin in the pharmacy produced by other manufactures.