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How a new, less expensive insulin option may impact those with diabetes

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Posted at 11:02 AM, Jun 30, 2021

Walmart is expanding its reach in health care. It's offering a new, less expensive version of analog insulin. That's the rapid-acting type of insulin people with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes take.

The cash price of the new private label ReliOn NovoLog insulin will be almost $73 for one vial or almost $86 for the insulin pen. That's about $100 to $250 in savings when compared to similar brands.

Walmart says about 11% of Americans and 14% of its customers have diabetes.

Even with other generic forms of insulin on the market, managing diabetes still costs nearly $10,000 a year.

“My sister and I have experienced struggles to the point where we were sharing insulin out of the same vile. And she ended up becoming sick and hospitalized for four days, and we really just almost lost my sister,” said Sa'Ra Skipper, who’s living with Type 1 diabetes.

Skipper and her sister have both had Type-1 diabetes since they were kids. Even with insurance, insulin is still expensive.

“But $1,700 a month for my, you know, life-sustaining medicine is just, it's ridiculous. So, I've been able to like, I have a stockpile, but that's the pile that I used to donate to other people,” said Skipper.

“You know, I’ve met people in parking lots more times than I can count and then all kinds of different situations, like leaving abusive situations, and they're scared to leave because they can't afford their insulin on their own,” said Colleen Gray Nguyen, who’s living with Type 1 diabetes.

Nguyen has also lived with Type 1 diabetes since she was a child. She now runs a camp for diabetic children. They say diabetic challenges go beyond the cost.

“You are prescribed a very specific amount and (keep) in mind, insulin comes in a little glass bottle. If you drop one, you're out of luck. If you get one that's bad, you're out of luck,” said Nguyen.

“I know there's been times, where I’ve been suffering and it's just like, ‘well you don't look sick’ or ‘you don't look it,’ so you have to stay at work or, you know, I've lost jobs because I’m choosing my health over standing here and you could care less so,” said Skipper.

According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes is the most expensive chronic condition in the U.S.