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Insulin Price Hikes Tell Us a Lot About What’s Wrong With Drug Pricing in America

If you’re among the 30 million diabetics in America who rely on insulin to stay alive, then you’re probably very much aware that the price of living has risen to an exorbitant $400 a month, as insulin makers continue to hike insulin prices. Even if you have insurance, the money still comes out of your pocket in the form of co-pays, deductibles and insurance premiums. Vox points out that these costs are unique to you as a U.S. citizen: Americans represent only 15 percent of the global insulin market, but generate half the industry’s revenues. One reason they get away with this is because the government allows it to happen.

This is not a new or unique story, as anyone with life-threatening allergies can attest: With one fell swoop the makers of EpiPens raised prices similarly, while AIDS patients faced a hike in a pill they paid $13.50 for to $750. Even when generics are available, drug makers can, and do, gouge Americans — with a perfect example being of when the price of a once-daily form of Wellbutrin was hiked to $1,400 a month. The generic equivalent is $30.

To defend its high prices, Pharma mounts PR campaigns targeting lawmakers to show the "value" that drugs that cost five and six figures represent. The prices are always presented as fixed and non-negotiable.

The same is true with vaccines, which essentially are Big Pharma’s new profit center. But, insulin or EpiPens or vaccines or whatever drug it is they sell, the bottom line is all Pharma is interested in is the money. To make matters in their favor, drug industry representatives sit on the boards of major TV and print news outlets, shaping and sometimes blocking reporting about drug safety and effectiveness.

Academic institutions, many government agencies and NGOs are financially beholden to Big Pharma, too, and most academic medical centers have drug company reps on their boards. And, “sponsored content” is now the prevailing online advertising model making drug advertisements and Pharma messages look like real news.

All of this is designed to generate money for drug makers and to make YOU, the consumer, lifetime users of these drugs. You don’t have to let this happen, though. Make this the year you choose to take control of your health in a way that will benefit you. I believe that virtually anyone can achieve good health and longevity by following holistic lifestyle strategies. Consuming a balanced, whole food diet, getting enough high-quality sleep, including a well-rounded exercise routine in your daily schedule, and effectively managing your stress — all these can help you stay physically and mentally healthy.
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