March 28, 2023

Musk’s Twitter chaos puts insane insulin pricing in the spotlight

Enlarge / In September 2019, advocates held a sit-in outside Eli Lilly’s offices in New York, honoring those who have lost their lives due to high insulin prices and calling for lower insulin prices.

Social media platform Twitter has been mired in uncertainty and chaos in the few but long days since billionaire Elon Musk took over. But above the din of fake accounts and real policy changes, a furious dialogue has erupted on the forum about a perhaps unexpected topic – the exorbitant cost of insulin.

Early Thursday afternoon (EST), an account posing as pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, with the Twitter handle @EliLillyandCo, the company’s logo and a blue check mark in its name — which previously only meant verifying the account’s identity but has since flagged their accounts. who paid just an $8 subscription fee — tweeted the enticing but false claim: “We’re excited to announce that insulin is now free.”

A tweetwhich remained publicly viewable for at least four hours, started a viral spread that collected at least 1,798 Retweets and 12,800 Likes before the account was set to protected, which means only approved Followers can see its tweets. The account currently has zero followers.

Later, a real, verified Eli Lilly account with the handle @LillyPad admitted the false information 16:09 tweet. “We apologize to those who were sent a misleading message from a fake Lilly account. Our official Twitter account is @LillyPad.”

Authenticated rage

But that wasn’t enough to quell the outrage and scorn over the all-too-real prices of insulin in the United States. “Apologise to diabetics for the price increase” one Twitter user responded. “Why don’t you make affordable insulin instead of apologizing?” another tweeted in a growing pile.

The reason for the backlash is painfully obvious. Insulin, a hormone made by the body to process and use blood sugar (glucose), can be a vital medicine for the 37.3 million Americans with diabetes. This is a group of diseases that generally interfere with the ability of the body’s cells to function. use sugar. According to the American Diabetes Association, about 8.4 million Americans rely on insulin to survive. It usually costs $10 or less to make a bottle of insulin. Yet patients in the United States easily see hundreds of dollars in monthly insulin bills.

For example, Eli Lilly’s brand name Humalog U-100 has a list price of $274.70 for one 10 mL vial. Diabetics often need two, three or more vials per month. The list price for a five-pack of 3 mL Humalog U-100 KwikPens is $530.40. Eli Lilly also has an unbranded generic product called Lispro Injection U-100, with list prices of $82.41 for a single 10-ml vial or $159.12 for a 3-ml pack of five—relatively affordable prices. Eli Lilly recently lowered the list price of Lispro, dropping it by 40 percent in 2021 amid a public backlash.

No quick fix

The cost can be a huge burden on many Americans’ expenses. Worse, it causes some to skimp on the amount of insulin they use compared to what they need to control their blood sugar to a healthy level. This can be a life-threatening gamble. However, a recent study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine found that a staggering 1.3 million Americans—more than 15 percent of insulin users—were rationing their insulin and putting their lives at risk.

There is help on the way – for some. The Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law in August, caps the out-of-pocket cost of insulin for people on Medicare to just $35 a month starting in 2023. But the proposed cap for people with commercial insurance was rejected and does not exist. protection for the uninsured. This is especially troubling because a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that people under the age of 65 who are not yet eligible for Medicare are most likely to take insulin.

So the uproar continues on Twitter amid the noise of the platform’s chaos. On Thursday night, another blue check account, posing as Eli Lilly under the handle LiIlyPadCo, tweeted a parody of a drug manufacturer’s apologywrites: “We apologize to those who were sent a misleading message from the Vale Lilly account about the cost of diabetic care. Humalog is now $400. We can do this anytime and there is nothing you can do about it. Sorry Our official Twitter account is @LiIlyPadCo.” Amidst the responses, the account replied, “$500 now. Do you want to continue?” The account has since been suspended.

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