70% insulin price increase in less than a year ($425 to $720 a bottle)

I called to get a refill on my Humulin R U-500 insulin, and the pharmacist called me back to warn me the wholesale price had gone up again. In November of 2011, the wholesale cost per 20 ml bottle was $425. The price has gone up every couple of months. I am disabled, so I get Medicare even though I'm not 65. I signed up for an HMO that takes your Medicare deductions for A,B&D along with $50 per month of my SSDI income. I get a little extra a month from disability insurance. Just barely enough that I don't qualify for any poverty based assistance. I contacted PPARX.ORG, with no luck there. It seems that if you have insurance it disqualifies you for most aid programs. I have several questions:

1. Do you know of any other places, I might be able to get some help with the co-pay on my insulin?

2. Is there some government agency that you can file a complaint about price gouging? I've been on this insulin for 5 years. The first 4 years the price was relatively stable. When a competing company discontinued a similar product and Lilly had the monopoly, the price has skyrocketed.

3. Is anyone here taking normal Humulin R U-100, and has the cost of it rose by 70%? The U-500 I take is just a more concentrated version for insulin resistant people.

4. Is there any justifiable reason the cost of this specific type insulin would rise by 70%? After talking to six people at Lilly, trying to get an answer, all I could get is, "We don't set the prices. You will have to talk to your pharmacy." It is not like there is any R&D cost to recover.

Sorry for such a long message. I just found out today. I will no longer be able to afford my insulin, and I don't know where to turn.

Tags: Humulin, R, U-500

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I just did a quick look and I am shocked at the prices. I had not realized. Regular U-100 is just $25 for a 10mL vial at Walmart. But the "street" price for many kinds of insulin seem to have risen, I am not sure why. It could be that industry is finally taking advantage of the loopholes in the new health care reform to attack the underinsured. My insurance shows U-500 costing $600, but my "out of pocket" would be $20. I still can get most other insulin's with the previous pricing levels through my insurance so it looks like the "street" price is the only thing changed.

How many units do you need. Is there any chance that you could use U-100 with multiple injections?

A month ago, when I got my insulin refilled it was $598. I bet if your insurance keeps current, it will be right around $720. With Medicare, the co-pay is 20% or $140. My add-on HMO decreases that to 15%, but that is still $101 a bottle. I am on an insulin pump. According to my endocrinologist the pump couldn't get enough of the U-100 insulin into my system. Plus I would be using 5 times the infusion sets, which my insurance won't cover.

I'm not an expert on the Animas, but can you simply replace the cartridge without a new infusion set? I know that in many cases, you get advised to use U-500 when you go over 300 units total daily dose, but maybe there are some things you could do. Maybe you could use the pump for just basal and use a rapid for meals? After all, U-500 does a really poor job covering meals. Would that enable you to get a reasonable regime with U-100?

I am new to the group. I was researching the U500 price increase on Google when this caught my eye. I paid $1218 for 3 x 20mil vials in January and $2060 for the same 3 vials in late October. I am now in the catastrophic Part D coverage category but the price increase that rivals "gouging" caught my eye. I filed a concern with Bill Nelson recently re-elected US SEnator from Florida and with AARP my Medicare Part D Rx provider using Prescription Solutions. I would suggest that all others impacted by this price increase do something similar, perhaps the volume of complaints will cause some type of investigation and perhaps a price decrease. I believe that this is a case where the pharma industry in taking advantage of a single source to obtain record profits on this drug perhaps to increase the overall part D profit which i closely monitored. Responses to this post are encouraged

hi netbadger, see if there's anything on this page that might help


yikes! doesn't the animas pump use a 315 unit cartridge? I thought it was pretty similar to my Acu-chek spirit in that way.


The above link has some resources. I hope you find one that helps! I think it's ridiculous that something we have to have in order to LIVE is soooo expensive! My doctors office gives me samples, you might call and ask.

I finally got through to a department of Lilly that "supposedly" arrange for a coupon to cover the co-pay on one bottle. You can only get one coupon a year. Now I only have to worry about the other 19 or 20 bottles this year. It is better than no help at all.

Thank you all for your quick and helpful feedback. In reading through all of your replies and ideas that brings up a couple more questions. Does anyone here know what the cost is for a 10 ml bottle of Humulin R U-100 is? At one time the pharmacist calculated what my cost was, using 5 times my current dose of U-500. It came out about the same, but that was at least a year or two ago. If U-100 hasn't had the same 70% price increase, that may be totally different now. A pure curiosity question is if anyone has ever read how widespread the use of the concentrated insulin is?

I buy Humulin-R at wal-mart for about $24 full price, but that is the u-100. I'm not sure what it would be like through medicare. That price has been pretty steady for me and it's been 3 or 4 years of use. Maybe call wal-mart and see if they could tell you a price? That would be my thought.

I am on a low carb diet, but my lymph system is compromised. I am carrying an additional 70 to 90 lbs of water in my torso that will not be affected by any sort of diet. It can be reduced with specialized physical therapy with my extremities being wrapped in ace bandages and some sort of manual massage. This therapy needs to be done 3 to 5 times a week, with a co-pay of $30 a visit. I cannot afford that. I do the exercises given to me by the lymphedema specialist, but they are very low impact and directed at water loss. My insurance covers gastric bypass for morbidly obese patients, but I have too many other medical problems and was turned down. I was on Metformin, but my endocrinologist took me off of it, I think because of kidney damage.

Wow Super_sally! That info on Tramadol is totally new to me. I will take up the subject with my PCP, without a doubt. Believe it or not, my insurance is the top tier HMO add-on for people with Medicare by a Blue Cross - Blue Shield company. BC-BS used to be a reputable health insurance company. Now the patient's health is so far behind the company's greed for profit, it is unbelievable. I had been with the company for ten years, and had no complaints until BC-BS bought it two years ago.

One suggestion: until the end of 2012, Apidra is having a promotion, so you get as much as $100 off any order of Apidra. I know you said you use Regular, but it might be worth looking into. Additionally, I know the price of Humalog recently dropped by 50% (I was paying $120 a bottle, but now the price is $60 a bottle - I don't know why it would drop and the price for Regular would rise, though).




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