New Study: Diabetes Patients Skipping Meds Due to Costly Medication

By: Nesita Kwan-NBC
By: Nesita Kwan-NBC

A new study finds that the cost of treating diabetes has skyrocketed so dramatically that some patients admit they're skipping the drugs.

But should they really be paying that much?

Nesita Kwan reports.

"About how much a month is your diabetes medicine?"

Even with health insurance, Lenita Brown said her co-pays have more than tripled over the last eight years.

That's when she started taking the meds for type-two diabetes, and now, she admits, she sometimes scrimps on her pills.

"At times I need to stretch the medication out," said Lenita Brown.

And other times…

"Can't buy a new pair of shoes today, can't go to the hairdresser next week,” said Brown. “You know you're constantly doing something in order to pay for the medicine."

So, at the University of Chicago Medical Center, Dr. Caleb Alexander prescribes older, generic drugs to Brown.

They cost far less than the newest drugs on the market.

Dr. Caleb Alexander, who conducted the study said, "One thing we found in our study is the costs of some of the newer medicine are 8 to 10 times the cost of their older counterparts."

And yet here's the question.

Dr. Alexander says there's no long term evidence that the newer drugs are more effective, or even as safe as drugs from the 1990's.

His study in the archives of internal medicine may prompt doctors to rethink how they use the newest diabetes drugs: and even to emphasize non-drug treatments.

"Our study highlights encouraging patients to lead healthy lifestyles,” Dr. Alexander explained.

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