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Program makes insulin affordable

April 19,1775 at the Old North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts was the “shot heard around the world,” which is the beginning of the American Revolution.

This first bold statement by the American colonists was the initial phase of what most believe to be the greatest overthrow of tyranny.

After many battles and engagements, the war was won, and freedom came to the United States.

On Jan. 2, we were reading an article from one of the multiple emails we get, and it described Novo Nordisk starting a new program that offered patients insulin for $99 per month.

This program will pay for three bottles of insulin or two boxes of their pens for $99. That’s right: Novo Nordisk is bypassing insurance companies, Pharmacy Benefit Managers, formulary committees and everyone else who gets in the way of patient care.

Their program applies to every patient, regardless of insurance — doesn’t matter whether they have commercial, government or no insurance at all. One picture of Ben Franklin ($100 bill) and you get three vials or two boxes of pens, and a dollar back.

It sounds too good to be true.

Back in 1922, Drs. Banting, Best and Collip sold their patent for their process on the extraction of insulin to the University of Toronto for $1 each. Banting felt it unethical to profit from the discovery of a lifesaving drug that patients needed to sustain life.

My how times have changed a century later.

We implore the other makers of insulin, namely Eli Lilly & Company and Sanofi-Aventis, to follow suit and come up with their direct-to-patient programs to bypass the ridiculous copays, deductibles, donut holes and other schemes the insurance companies, with the government’s help, have come up with.

Eight years ago, at a picnic at Chet and Barb Kowalski’s house, Dr. Zane Gates challenged my wife, Denise, and I to come up with a formulary that he could use for his under-insured patient population.

With help from Gretchen and Mark Garofoli (our daughter and son-in-law), and Bill Thompson, we came up with a robust formulary that is used daily at the Empower-3 clinic.

The only two disease states that we couldn’t cover are insulin dependent diabetes and asthma/COPD.

Thanks to Novo-Nordisk, one of the holes in the formulary is plugged. Now, we implore the makers of the asthmas inhalers to come up with a similar program to help this patient population.

We’re both seasoned pharmacists that remember 20 years ago when we had $10 inhalers. We challenge Glaxo-Smith-Kline, Astra-Zeneca, Boehringer-Ingelheim and other inhaler manufacturers to come up with a $40 per month inhaler.

This would keep our patients out of the emergency department and save billions to the health care system.

Novo-Nordisk has fired the first “shot heard around the health care world.

We’re hoping for a revolution in health care that frees up our patients from a burdensome, expensive and cumbersome insurance, government and manufacturer system that is of no benefit to our patients.

Check out their website at Novocare.com for the $99 per month insulin program.

Denise and Peter Kreckel

Pharmacists

Tyrone

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