TULSA, Okla. — Walmart announced it's introducing a lower-priced brand of insulin. The insulin is expected to start selling in Walmart pharmacies starting this week.
This announcement comes as a relief for the hundreds of diabetic Oklahomans because it means better access to a medical necessity.
"It's not just an extra thing that makes life easier for people with diabetes, it is what keeps us alive." Tanya Conovaloff, with Junior Diabetes Research Foundation and a Type 1 Diabetic said.
Conovaloff is one of 34 million people in the U.S. who have diabetes. Here in Oklahoma, 14.3 percent of adults are diabetic, according to the American Diabetic Association.
Every year that number keeps climbing and with it the cost of insulin.
According to data released by the Healthcare Cost Institute, the cost of insulin for people with Type 1 diabetes nearly doubled from $2,900 in 2012 to $5,700 in 2016.
“It’s hundreds of dollars per bottle and based on your insurance you know whether you get to offset that or not,” Conovaloff said.
Now Walmart is making a medical necessity available to hundreds of Oklahomans at a reduced cost.
The giant retailer announced it will introduce Novolog insulin to the market sometime this week. The vials will cost $72 while flex pens will cost around $85. Walmart said that's between 58 percent less than other brands.
“It’s a very expensive drug and if people can’t afford it, oftentimes people will resort to trying to water it down to make it last longer or just not taking as much as they need and all of those things have severe detrimental repercussions,” Conovaloff said.
Kim Koleber's daughter is 35 and also has Type 1 diabetes.
Koleber said Walmart's announcement is a great step, but there is still a lot of work to be done.
She said people with diabetes need access to all medications and all devices without deductibles or co-payments required by the insurance companies.
Conovaloff agrees that access and affordability are essential.
“It’s what keeps me alive so it’s absolutely imperative that I have access to good insulin,” Conovaloff said.
The ReliOn products will be available this week at Walmart pharmacies. They are set to launch in Sam's Club pharmacies next month.
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