Health care professionals hopeful after bill filed to cap insulin costs

Health care professionals hopeful after bill filed to cap insulin costs

LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - A bill in a Texas House committee would cap insulin prices at $50 per vial. It is welcome news for many in the health care industry.

Right now, there is no telling what the fate of the bill is. It was introduced by House Democrat James Talarico and has gained bipartisan support.

It even has the backing of Lubbock Rep. John Frullo. But it is those in health care who are most hopeful.

“I would say there’s a little bit of joy in that, because there needs to be a halt on how outrageous these costs are,” Dr. Fiona Prabhu, associate professor of family medicine with the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.

Prabhu has also run the HSC’s Free Clinic for the last 10 years and has witnessed the insulin cost increase. By some estimates that increase was more than 353% over a 15-year period.

“I was a resident doctor from 1995-1998 and the medicine was affordable then,” Prabhu said. ““And just watching the cost gradually skyrocket to where it’s a choice between paying utility bill, or rent, or mortgage payment, versus paying for one vial of insulin.”

The HSC’s Free Clinic works with people without insurance or who cannot afford insulin, even if they have coverage. She and her staff use the website Good RX to find the cheapest price.

Scrolling through the site it is obvious why that is a tough task with some vials that cost hundreds of dollars.

“But some people are on as much as 50 units twice daily, 100 units twice daily,” Prabhu said. “When you do the math, they’re taking several viles per month.”

Some patients have even tried to go without. Others adjust their dosage themselves with behind-the-counter insulin.

Because her and many doctors are dealing with patients daily, it is hard to lobby for legislation like this because they are so busy.

“We’re just kind of dealing, especially on primary care, the front lines,” Prabhu said. “We’re just trying to figure out how to make it where our patient can afford it better.”

Copyright 2021 KCBD. All rights reserved.