Activist Arrested While Protesting Insulin Price Gouging Practices

A vigil at Eli Lilly’s United States headquarters turned sour a few days ago as activists remembered those who had died because they did not have access to the insulin they needed to preserve their own lives. When diabetic patients can’t get the insulin they require, they try to ration it — and that’s what usually turns deadly. Nicole Smith-Holt was arrested when she let the police know she would be conducting acts of civil disobedience at the vigil.

Republicans in the Minnesota Senate have finally agreed that something needs to be done about the worsening crisis, but they still won’t agree to provide medication for free to those who desperately need it. And simply saying something needs to be done doesn’t do anything for those who are dying today.

Smith-Holt said, “The time frame seems too long. Lives can be lost during that waiting period. As you could tell from my testimony, my son died in the matter of 24 hours without insulin.”

A new House bill to address these concerns was named after Smith-Holt’s son: it’s called the Alec Smith Emergency Insulin Plan. According to the details, diabetics without the resources to get their own insulin fast would be given a 90-day supply to hold them over until they get back on their feet and can afford their own.

“Our plan tries to catch patients before they’re in crisis,” said Eric Pratt, a Republican senator from Prior Lake while criticizing plans that don’t go far enough.

Unsurprisingly, the pharmaceutical industry has voiced its discontent regarding the new plan in a new statement: “We have serious concerns the Minnesota Senate is now contemplating an overly broad Minnesota insulin assistance program that would force insulin manufacturers to give away insulin products for free.”

Of course the “concerns” are absurd. The insulin would first be paid for by the Minnesota government, not manufacturers. The pharmaceutical industry — and other opponents to the Alec Smith plan — have forgotten that the entire point of government is to protect the people from harm.

They also dismiss other consequences that crop up when patients don’t have access to insulin. Those who survive the crisis are usually looking at a lifetime of ever-worsening health problems, which ends up burdening the healthcare system even more. Yes, someone has to pay for the treatment plans — but doing so before the problem turns into a death sentence or a lifetime of illness is always the cheaper option.

Thankfully, new research is helping diabetics more easily manage the disease. A new glucose monitor called Dexcom is one of the newest on the market.