PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The high prices of insulin is causing some families to take drastic measures to get the lifesaving diabetes medication.
About 7.5 million Americans rely on insulin and while there are a lot of variables with deductions and coverage limits, many are having to pay more or turn to dangerous alternatives.
Eli Barton is a playful 9-year-old who’s learned to live with type one diabetes.
“I was so scared about my life, until I started doing everything and getting the hang of it. It got not so scary,” said Eli.
He wears a high-tech monitor that checks his blood sugar level and he knows what to do if it gets too low.
“I drink a juice and that will shoot me up,” explained Eli.
And several times a day he injects himself with insulin.
“If he does not get that insulin he will die, there’s no question about it, it’s a fact,” said Cody Barton, Eli’s father.
The price of insulin has skyrocketed with many families now struggling to pay for the lifesaving medication.
“The fear of keeping my son alive is so real,” said mother Heather Barton.
Many have turned to what’s described as a black market for insulin, where it’s offered for sale on sites like eBay and Facebook.
“People wouldn’t be turning to the black market if insulin was affordable,” said Heather Barton.
There are thousands of GoFundMe accounts for people looking for help to buy insulin.
In the case of Shane Patrick Boyle, he was collecting for insulin, but died before he reached his goal.
“There is greed and there is rich, the political system and what you have is all built in and it’s very unfortunate,” said Dr. Satish Garg.
Eli’s mom got a higher paying job with better insurance so they could afford his medicine.
“If I never worried or did anything about it I would probably die,” said Eli.
The American Diabetes Association has a website called MakeInsulinAffordable.org that helps patients and families navigate finding affordable medicine.
Drug makers say it’s expensive to produce insulin and some patient assistance programs to help with costs.
Critics say there should be limits on drug prices.