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Poll: Utah Voters Back Cap on Co-Pays for Insulin Prescriptions

According to a national drug database, the cost of a vial of insulin can be $1,500 a month or higher for diabetics, 10 times what it was just a decade ago. (Young/AdobeStock)
According to a national drug database, the cost of a vial of insulin can be $1,500 a month or higher for diabetics, 10 times what it was just a decade ago. (Young/AdobeStock)
January 14, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY -- The skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs has become a bipartisan issue among voters, and Utahns overwhelmingly back a plan to help diabetics overcome the cost of life-saving insulin.

A new poll from Y-2 Analytics finds 4 out of 5 registered voters would support legislation to cap out-of-pocket costs for insulin. The idea mirrors a bill passed in Colorado in 2019 to limit a patient's out-of-pocket costs for insulin, a hormone critical to diabetics for controlling their blood sugar.

Stacy Stanford, health and policy analyst with the Utah Health Policy Project, said over the past decade, the rising cost of insulin has forced many diabetics to make tough - and sometimes life-threatening - decisions.

"One of the most glaring instances when it comes to prescription drugs is with insulin. It is something that has been increasing astronomically even though it only costs a few dollars to produce," Stanford said. "And insulin is not optional."

According to the poll, 49% of Utah voters would strongly support a bill to limit insulin co-pays, while another 29% would somewhat support the idea. Only 10% of those polled said they would strongly oppose such a bill.

According to a national prescription-drug database, the average cost of a 20-milliliter vial of long-acting insulin now costs almost $1,500. Stanford said that's unacceptable.

"Rationing leads to death. Full stop," she said. "Insulin, without it, it is fatal. And so, I think that it's kind of a glaring example of where the gap is and where this crisis is really growing."

And while public sentiment in Utah is behind the idea, so far no one has filed a bill for the upcoming session of the Utah Legislature to debate. Stanford said her organization is working to make that happen.

"I know that there have been conversations; I don't know that there is a specific bill on the table," she said. "Myself and my co-worker have reached out to elected officials and also to groups to see how we can support this work."

So far, the Colorado law is the only concrete measure taken by a state to lower the spiraling cost of prescription drugs.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - UT