US

27-Year-Old Dies After Using Generic Insulin to Save Money

By Samuel Allegri

A 27-year-old man has died after taking over-the-counter insulin because he could not afford the insurance copays for the usual insulin he had been taking.

Both Josh Wilkerson, and his fiance, Rose Walters, aged out of their parent’s health insurance. Josh could not afford $1,200 a month since he was making just $16.50 per hour, reported Fox4.  He was left with the option to purchase a less expensive form of insulin.

Erin Wilson-Weaver, Josh’s mother, had lost her father to Type 1 diabetes when she was 38 — the same type that Wilkerson had. She hopes that her son’s death can be a catalyst to change the exorbitant prices of insulin.

“When Josh was diagnosed at 8, it was, it was soul-crushing for me. I just felt like that was an early death sentence for him,” Wilson-Weaver said. “I knew how many times my father had been in and out of the hospital with diabetic coma, and he’d had many strokes…He went blind at an early age, and he had been a journalist! So losing his ability to see made him feel extremely disconnected from life, and it completely changed his personality. That’s all I could see, was a future like that for my son.”

Wilkerson died on June 15, four months before his upcoming wedding with Walters. He was alone in the sleeping quarters at the dog kennel where he worked. Josh was working overnight to make extra money.

After not hearing from Josh for some time, Josh’s fiance decided to go to the kennel to check on Josh.  Walters found Josh unconscious at the kennel, reported People.

“I just remember smacking him on the face, saying, ‘Babe, wake up. You have to wake up,’” Walters said.

Doctors later said that Josh had suffered several strokes just a few hours after using the low-grade, generic insulin. Josh had fallen into a diabetic coma due to his blood sugar level was 17 times higher than normal.

“It’s very hard,” said Walters, who also has Type 1 diabetes. “How many more young Type 1 diabetes patients have to die before something finally changes?”

“It’s pretty much a death sentence,”  Weaver said of people who have to ration insulin or use the generic version. “They have no health insurance or good jobs to afford what they need, so they’re left with the pittance that is left.”

Walmart told People in a statement, “All patients should work with their medical provider to help manage their diabetes, including which is the best form of insulin for their treatment. The high cost of insulin is a concern for those trying to manage their diabetes, and human insulin can be a less expensive alternative, but it may not be right for everyone, which is why it is very important patients work with their doctor on the best way to treat their diabetes.”

Thousands of low-income people in the U.S. have trouble purchasing high-grade insulin and depend on over-the-counter insulin at a tenth of the cost at $25 a vial. High medication prices have people flying to Canada to obtain insulin where it costs only a fraction of what it costs in the United States.

The Trump administration has announced last weeks that they will take steps to permit states to import lower-priced medications from Canada, which could include insulin, reported Washington Post.