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Expand chart
Data: Health Care Cost Institute; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

The amount that people with Type 1 diabetes spent on insulin, before subtracting rebates and discounts, doubled from 2012 to 2016 while daily insulin use mostly stayed flat, according to a report from the Health Care Cost Institute, which analyzed health insurance claims from that time span.

The big picture: There are some limitations with the report's data. Regardless, insulin prices and out-of-pocket costs have enraged diabetic patients and parents, who have been at the forefront of the drug pricing debate by explaining how difficult it is to obtain the life-or-death medication.

By the numbers: The average patient with Type 1 diabetes spent $5,705 insulin in 2016, according to HCCI.

  • That represents 31% of that patient's gross health care spending for the year.
  • In 2012, gross insulin costs represented a relatively lower 23% of the average diabetic's health care spending.

Yes, but: There is a major caveat. The report does not factor in rebates and discounts, and therefore the spending totals don't reflect what was actually paid.

  • Insulin makers say their net prices have barely budged over the past several years because most of the price increases go toward health insurers and pharmacy benefit managers in the form of rebates.
  • However, HCCI modeled a scenario that assumed 50% of an insulin product's list price went toward rebates or manufacturer coupons, and the firm still found insulin prices were the leading reason for higher spending among patients with diabetes.
  • Neither Sanofi nor Novo Nordisk addressed specific questions about that rebate scenario. Eli Lilly did not respond to any questions.

What they're saying: Sanofi and Novo Nordisk both issued statements that blamed rebates, high deductibles and other insurance designs as the reasons for higher spending, and they said most of their patients can get insulin for less than $50 per month.

  • HCCI did not break down insulin costs by out-of-pocket spending versus premiums.

The bottom line: It's not as though the situation is about to change. Two of the three major insulin makers, Sanofi and Novo Nordisk, raised prices on their products for 2019, while Eli Lilly has not publicly made a decision yet. Meanwhile all three companies are in Congress' crosshairs.

Go deeper

47 mins ago - Health

U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record

Expand chart
Data: COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Axios Visuals

The United States reported 88,452 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, setting a single-day record, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.

The big picture: The country confirmed 1,049 additional deaths due to the virus, and there are over 46,000 people currently being hospitalized, suggesting the U.S. is experiencing a third wave heading into the winter months.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day.
  2. Politics: Top HHS spokesperson pitched coronavirus ad campaign as "helping the president" — Space Force's No. 2 general tests positive for coronavirus.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases.
  4. Sports: MLB to investigate Dodgers player who joined celebration after positive COVID test.
  5. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.

The norms around science and politics are cracking

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Crafting successful public health measures depends on the ability of top scientists to gather data and report their findings unrestricted to policymakers.

State of play: But concern has spiked among health experts and physicians over what they see as an assault on key science protections, particularly during a raging pandemic. And a move last week by President Trump, via an executive order, is triggering even more worries.