Insulin Costs Rise But Mostly Not Paid For Out-of-Pocket by Patients Interview with:
Dr. Hui ShaoDr. Hui Shao, MBBS, MHA, PhD
CDC What is the background for this study? 

Response: 23.1 million people in the U.S. have diagnosed diabetes and 7.4 million regularly use one or more types of insulin. Spending on insulin accounts for a large portion of the costs associated with diabetes. Affordability of insulin has become a public health concern in recent years as high spending on insulin imposes a large financial burden on the national health care system and is associated with poor adherence and health outcomes. What are the main findings?

Response: In this study, we analyzed the recent trends in usage and total payments, and patients’ out-of-pocket (OOP) payments for insulin by type in privately insured Americans (MarketScan Claims database) 2003-2017.  We estimated total payment and out-of-pocket payment for a 30-day/yearly supply of different types of insulin and found that, on average, inflation-adjusted annual total payments for insulin increased yearly by around 6% ($153) between 2003 and 2012 and by around 13% ($592) between 2011 and 2017. Similar increase patterns were observed across insulin types.

The major driver for increases in average total payments for a 30-day supply of insulin were explained by increases in payments for existing products and not by changes in the market share of insulin types. In contrast, out-of-pocket payments increased only marginally, suggesting that the increase in insulin spending was not paid directly by the patient. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The average annual total payment increased substantially during the study period, from $1,982 per year in 2003 to $6,360 per year in 2017 (in inflation-adjusted in 2017$). Total payments for insulin have been increasing since 2003 but were at much higher rates after 2011. In contrast, annual out-of-pocket costs increased only marginally from $390 to $451 during the same period, suggesting that the sharp payment increases were not paid out of pocket by the patient. The payment increase occurred across all insulin types, suggesting a lack of inexpensive alternatives in the insulin market. Even for human insulin, the cheapest form of insulin, the average payment for a 30-day supply caught up with insulin analogs in 2017.                                        What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Our study population is those with private insurance with the fee for service. Additional research is needed to help determine if similar spending patterns are observed in persons with other types of health insurance, especially those with high-deductible plans and those without health insurance.

Further research in this area could also help us determine the cause of rising insulin costs, and inform decision-making at all levels, which could reduce insulin cost, or slow the consistent increase in cost. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: There are no additional comments or disclosures. For more information about how the CDC works to prevent and control diabetes visit

 Citation: ADA 2019 abstract

Trend in Total Payment and Out-of-Pocket Payment on a Yearly Supply of Oral Antidiabetic Drug Types among U.S. Adults with Private Health Insurance from 2003 to 2016



Jun 16, 2019 @ 12:58 pm

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Islet Cell Transplantation Can Give Some Diabetics Long Term Glucose Control Interview with:

Dr. Rodolfo Alejandro, MD Professor of Medicine University of Miami Miller School of Medicine Co-Director of the Cell Transplant Center Director/Attending Physician of the Clinical Cell Transplant Program Diabetes Research Institute

Dr. Alejandro

Dr. Rodolfo Alejandro, MD
Professor of Medicine
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
Co-Director of the Cell Transplant Center
Director/Attending Physician of the Clinical Cell Transplant Program
Diabetes Research Institute What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: In type 1 diabetes, the insulin-producing islets cells of the pancreas have been mistakenly destroyed by the immune system, requiring patients to manage their blood sugar levels through a daily regimen of insulin therapy. Islet transplantation has allowed some patients to live without the need for insulin injections after receiving a transplant of donor cells. Some patients who have received islet transplants have been insulin independent for more than a decade, as DRI researchers have published. Currently, islet transplantation remains an experimental procedure limited to a select group of adult patients with type 1 diabetes.Although not all subjects remain insulin independent, like the subjects described in this presentation, after an islet transplant a significant number of them continue with excellent graft function for over 10 years that allows them to have near-normal glucose metabolism in the absence of severe hypoglycemia on small doses of insulin.

In 2016, the National Institutes of Health-sponsored Clinical Islet Transplantation Consortium reported results from its Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-authorized Phase 3 multi-center trial, of which the DRI was a part, indicating that islet transplantation was effective in preventing severe hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels), a particularly feared complication in type 1 diabetes that can lead to seizures, loss of consciousness and even death.

The study was a significant step toward making islet transplantation an approved treatment for people with type 1 diabetes and reimbursable through health insurance, as it is in several other countries around the world.   Continue reading

Artificial Pancreas Reduces Hypoglycemia in Type 1 Diabetes Interview with:

Dr-Apostolos Tsapas

Dr. Tsapas

Apostolos Tsapas, MD PhD MSc(Oxon)
Associate Professor of Medicine
Director of the Second Medical Department | Aristotle University Thessalonik
Cruddas Link Fellow
Harris Manchester College
University of Oxford What is the background for this study?

Response: Artificial pancreas treatment, also referred to as closed loop glucose control, is an emerging treatment option combining a pump and continuous glucose monitoring with a control algorithm to deliver insulin (and potentially glucagon) in a glucose responsive manner. Compared with insulin pumps or sensor augmented pumps, artificial pancreas use can reduce the burden for patients by automatically adjusting the amount of insulin entering the body on the basis of sensor glucose levels. The US Food and Drug Administration has recently approved the first artificial pancreas system for use by people with type 1 diabetes over 14 years of age, based on a safety outpatient study.

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Hypoglycemia Linked To Increased Mortality in Hospitalized Patients Interview with:
Amit Akirov, MD
Institute of Endocrinology
Rabin Medical Center- Beilinson Hospital
Petach Tikva, Israel What is the background for this study?

Response: As hypoglycemia is common among hospitalized patients with and without diabetes mellitus, we aimed to investigate the association between spontaneous and insulin-related hypoglycemia including severe hypoglycemia and all-cause mortality among a large cohort of hospitalized patients.

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Insulin Activity in Brain Influences What and When We Eat

Dr. Margaret E. Rice, PhD Professor, Department of Neuroscience and Physiology Neurosurgery NYU Langone Medical Center

Dr. Margaret Rice Interview with:
Dr. Margaret E. Rice, PhD

Professor, Department of Neuroscience and Physiology
NYU Langone Medical Center

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Rice: Insulin is released from the pancreas into the bloodstream in response to a rise in circulating glucose levels when we eat. In most cells in the body, including those of liver and muscle, insulin acts at insulin receptors to promote glucose transport and other metabolic functions. Insulin also enters the brain and acts at brain insulin receptors, particularly in the hypothalamus where insulin acts as a satiety signal to indicate that we are full and should stop eating. The rising incidence of obesity, in which circulating insulin levels are chronically elevated, suggests insulin may play a role in other brain regions, as well, including regions that regulate motivation and reward.

Indeed, our new studies introduce a new role for insulin as a reward signal that acts in the dorsal striatum to enhance release of dopamine.  Dopamine is a key neurotransmitter in reward systems; most drugs of abuse enhance release of dopamine, which contributes to their addictive properties. We found that insulin, at levels found in the brain by the end of a meal, enhances dopamine release by activating insulin receptors on acetylcholine-containing striatal cells that boost dopamine release. Consistent with a role of insulin in signaling reward, companion behavioral studies in rodents indicate that insulin signaling in the striatum communicates the reward value of an ingested meal, and thereby influences food choices. These studies reveal the dual nature of insulin in the brain, which not only tells us when to stop eating, but also influences what we eat.

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Controlling Insulin Release With Photoswitchable Sulfonylurea

Dr. David Hodson PhD Faculty of Medicine, Department of Medicine Imperial College Interview with:
Dr. David Hodson PhD
Faculty of Medicine, Department of Medicine
Imperial College London

Medical Research: What is the background for this research?

Dr. Hodson: Type 2 diabetes represents a huge socioeconomic challenge. As well as causing significant morbidity due to chronically elevated glucose levels, this disease is also a drain on healthcare budgets (~$20billion in the UK per year). While current treatments are effective, they are sometimes associated with side effects, usually due to off-target actions on organs such as the heart and brain. In addition, the ability to regulate blood glucose levels more tightly may decrease complications stemming from type diabetes (e.g. nerve, kidney and retina damage). As a proof-of-principle that the spatiotemporal precision of light can be harnessed to finely guide and control drug activity, we therefore decided to produce a light-activated anti-diabetic. Continue reading