Three million Americans have Type-1 diabetes. If they don't get insulin every day, they will slip into a coma and die. The price of rapid-acting insulin, needed by diabetics who can't take slower-acting insulin, has increased 1,123 percent since 1996. Many insurance companies won't cover the costs, forcing desperate parents to look for insulin on the black market.
Gabriella is allergic to the kind of insulin her insurer covers at a $25 out-of-pocket cost. She can only take Apidra, but her insurance only covers 25 percent of the price, leaving the family to pay hundreds of dollars a month they can't afford.
So her mom has turned to the black market, trading for the medication with other families with diabetes she meets online, a tactic that regulators and health experts warn is a health risk. And she cut a back-end deal with a sympathetic drug rep: If she bought one vial he would give her 10 vials from his sample kit, nearly a one year's supply. Gabriella's grandmother covered the cost.