There are certain things that we absolutely cannot live without — food, water and oxygen, to name a few. Then there are certain things that we can’t live without that we don’t even really think about, most of which is produced by our bodies. However, sometimes, our bodies can’t produce these things, and we have to buy them instead. This is the case for people who live with diabetes — their bodies cannot produce insulin, so they have to buy it instead.
Recently, the prices of insulin have gone up tremendously. For something so essential, it is shocking that people have to spend so much money on it and that certain pharmaceutical companies try to make a profit off it.
Because of this, the World Health Organization (WHO) is trying to launch a worldwide program that will combat these high insulin prices. The WHO is hoping to work with companies that manufacture insulin in order to make it more available and even drive down the prices in the future.
This is a step in the right direction towards combating these exorbitant pharmaceutical prices. Recently, a lot of pharmaceuticals have become extremely expensive because many pharmaceutical companies want to make a profit on their drugs. This is putting people’s lives at risk, because many of them are unable to afford essential medications.
With the current prevalence of diabetes, it is absurd the prices of insulin are so high. I understand that companies want to make a profit, but it is despicable that money is valued over people’s lives. This is how messed up the health care system is today.
In developing countries, these rising prices are even more of a problem. This is because governments are struggling to afford the medications to stock them in hospitals and other health care facilities. Because of this, many consumers must pay the prices instead, which is reflected in their medical bills.
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), such as Doctors Without Borders, have been trying to combat these high prices as well by increasing access to these medications, such as insulin, in developing countries. The WHO’s efforts in addition should help more people get access to the products that they need.
Currently, there are only three large pharmaceutical companies controlling the global insulin market. Since there is such a small number, they essentially control how high the price of insulin is; it is nearly unregulated.
With the WHO’s program, there will be something in place called the “prequalification” of insulin, which will be at a lower, more affordable cost so that countries will have more options when buying insulin. Currently, about 420 million people around the world have diabetes; and insulin is vital for them because their bodies need insulin to break down sugar. Without it, they can go into a diabetic coma or hyperglycemic shock — when the body has too much sugar and not enough insulin to break all of the sugar down — as well as have many other complications. In severe circumstances, people can die without insulin.
The WHO’s program will mainly target low and middle income countries. For many people in these countries, a month’s supply of insulin can cost a few days’ worth of pay. People should not have to pay this much money for medication they need, and people certainly should not have to choose between either purchasing a medication that will help them or buying food that they need.
With this program, it may also set a certain precedent for other pharmaceuticals. If this program works, hopefully other exorbitantly priced medications can become more affordable for the population. In the future, programs like this could maybe even be implemented for vaccines, epi-pens or other expensive medications in order to keep the world’s population healthy.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual writers in the opinion section do not reflect the views and opinions of The Daily Campus or other staff members. Only articles labeled “Editorial” are the official opinions of The Daily Campus.
Anika Veeraraghav is a weekly columnist for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.