Insulin shortage raises concerns for people with diabetes

Published 9:16 am Friday, May 17, 2024

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By Shanteya Hudson

NC News Service

More than 1 million people in North Carolina are diabetic and they have become increasingly worried about the national shortage of insulin.

The access problems in North Carolina are prompting some individuals to either ration their medication or switch to different brands, which can significantly complicate their diabetes management.

Jessica Lynn-Lato of Charlotte was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 28 during pregnancy. She said she has seen firsthand the challenges the insulin shortage has created.

“We typically are prescribed 10-milliliter vials,” Lynn-Lato explained. “Some people were being prescribed three 3-milliliter vials. Other people were being prescribed insulin pens or altogether having the type of insulin they use changed to a different brand.”

She emphasized the urgent need for transparency about the causes of the current insulin shortage and for proactive measures to ensure access to the lifesaving medication.

Lynn-Lato explained for decades, people have struggled with insulin access for a variety of reasons, primarily cost. She recounted the tragic loss of her nephew, who was forced to ration insulin when he could not afford it.

“When he was 21 years old, he went to the pharmacy to pick up his insulin and couldn’t afford to pay for it,” Lynn-Lato noted. “He started using less insulin, which is something many people attempt to do to make it last longer. And sadly, it caught up with him two months later.”

She believes if the Affordable Care Act, and more recently, President Joe Biden’s cap on insulin costs through the Inflation Reduction Act, had happened sooner, it could have saved her nephew’s life.

According to Lynn-Lato, systemic reforms are needed to address the root causes of insulin shortages and improve affordability and accessibility for diabetes patients.

“I think it falls on the FDA to maybe set some standards here, when you’re dealing with medications that people literally need to live,” Lynn-Lato stressed.

She encouraged people to advocate for themselves by reaching out to their lawmakers and the Food and Drug Administration.