Matt Gaetz And The Price Of Insulin

Matt Gaetz is an idiot. I’m sure anyone coming across this without seeing the title probably would assume any number of problems he has. In this case, he said the price of insulin has been going up because more fat people are being diagnosed with diabetes .

90-95% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes, which “can be prevented or delayed with healthy lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, eating healthy food, and being active.” Arbitrary price controls are no substitute for individual weight control. Since 2000, the number of diabetes cases in the U.S. has nearly doubled. The demand for insulin has increased and the requisite price increase has followed suit. In other words, the price of insulin increases as waistlines increase.

This shows a gross misunderstanding of the disease.

Let’s talk about the 2 types of diabetes for a moment.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. The body’s immune system has attacked and damaged or destroyed the parts of the pancrease that produce insulin. Type 1 diabetics either produce very little insulin, or in the worst cases, none at all. These diabetics depend on insulin analogs in their daily lives, usually multiple types of insulin, and as the body’s condition changes throughout the day. Let me reiterate: All type 1 diabetics are insulin dependent. They may be on other medications to assist with managing the disease, but insulin is a component of this.

Type 1 diabetes is not associated with obesity. I’m not sure we even fully understand what causes it. Most type 1 diabetics are diagnosed as children, though it can happen later in life.

Type 2 diabetes is primarily described as a resistance to insulin. The body is producing it, but for some reason, is not able to use it so the body can feed on the sugars flowing around. Over time, this malfunction can cause other malfunctions in insulin production, and can, eventually, lead to a type 2 diabetic requiring insulin supplementation with insulin analogs. However, the first line of treatment does not, generally, involve the use of insulin. In fact, at least in my case, the doctor will attempt to avoid this as much as possible.

Type 2 diabetes is closely associated with obesity, but obesity is not always present in a diagnosis. For obese patients where detection is early enough, weight loss can result in no longer depending on medication, at least for a while. Should weight loss remove medication dependence, it’s only a temporary situation as the disease is likely to progress and treatment be required later in life anyway. It’s still a good idea to drop the weight.

Matt Gaetz is talking about the latter. He, clearly, has heard about the potential for weight loss to work as a treatment, but clearly having no medical knowledge of the disease, he doesn’t understand how this relates to insulin. I’m going to bet most type 2 diabetics are not insulin dependent, and there are plenty of insulin dependent type 2 diabetics who have lost the weight and are still dependent on insulin.

I’ve lost over 100 lbs since my diagnosis and I’m pretty close to where I should be in terms of “ideal” weight. I take 30 units of basal insulin daily, on top of the other medications I take to help control blood glucose. Losing more weight, going below my “ideal” is not going to get me off of insulin.

In fact, if a type 2 diabetes patient reaches the point in the disease where insulin is required, chances are, no matter if they are still obese or not, they will not lose the need for insulin. Use of insulin in a type 2 patient indicates a pretty far progression in the disease. There’s actual damage that the insulin injection compensates for.

I just use a basal insulin. My monthly insulin cost, without insurance, would be around $500. Type 1 diabetics, those who need these price controls the most, and who are the most likely to die from rationing their insulin because of price problems, take multiple types of insulin, including basal and bolus. So that $500 balloons as a result.

As for the reason the price keeps increasing? It’s not because of its use. Insulin analogs are cheap to make, and the original patents long expired. I’ve seen it argued that those formulations are just as effective as the modern formulations, and there are groups working to reproduce those results to bring affordable insulin to the masses. The reason the price keeps going up is the companies making them keep making minor changes so the patents can be renewed, so no one else can make their formulation. Insulin can be mass produced cheaply, but there’s not enough profit in going the affordable route. Unnecessary formulation changes and artificial supply restrictions, along with shitty price negotiations in a profit motivated health care system are why the price is high.

Matt Gaetz, you are not a medical professional, and it’s clear you haven’t consulted one on this issue. But perhaps you are just trying to live up to your shit reputation for your other garbage behavior.