By Natasha Srdoc and Joel Anand Samy, Thursday, October 17, 2019
Diabetes is a disease which has grown to become a major public health crisis in the United States. In May 2019, the Centers for Diseases Control (CDC) reported that more than 110 million Americans are living with diabetes (30.3 million) or prediabetes (84.1 million).
On April 2, 2019, media group France 24 reported that insulin rationing in the United States has led to the deaths of at least six diabetics over the past three years. The Yale Diabetes Center states that one in four American diabetics are now rationing their insulin.
According to IBM Watson Health, the price of insulin in the United States jumped over 600 percent from 2001 to 2018. The American Diabetes Association estimates that diabetes accounted for $237 billion in direct medical costs, including an average of $9,600 per person in medical expenditures just for their diabetes care.
Insulin was discovered almost a century ago by Canadian researchers — Frederick Banting, Charles Best and J.J.R. Macleod. They sold the patent to the University of Toronto for just $1 so that their discovery could benefit patients. Today, pharmaceutical companies are still charging patent-like prices.
America’s sky-rocketing prices of insulin have no basis in a market economy. Firstly, there is no valid patent which needs to be protected as an intellectual property right. Secondly, the currently closed U.S. insulin-market simultaneously prohibits the imports of insulin by individual patients, and places barriers to market entry for lower-priced insulin products.
It is exactly this scheme which reflects the socialist nature of the current U.S. health care system — a closed market with three protected companies providing insulin to patients. As in socialism, imports are banned, and a closed market is made self-sufficient.