New Gloucester dad testifies in U.S. Senate about son's diabetes

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — A father of four from New Gloucester testified during a U.S. Senate hearing Tuesday morning about the rising price of his son’s diabetes treatment. 

Paul Grant, whose 13-year-old son Solomon was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes several years ago, shared his family’s experience with the Senate Special Committee on Aging – particularly in regards to the cost of insulin that Solomon, a seventh grader at Gray-New Gloucester Middle School, relies on to treat his disease. 

“No father wants to see what would happen if you run out of insulin for your child with Type 1. I remember Sol’s state in the week that he was first diagnosed, when his body first stopped producing its own insulin, and I know that I must do whatever I can to make sure that he never has to go without it. I have purchased it on my credit card and I have had to borrow insulin from friends,” Grant, a project estimator for Wally J. Staples Builders, said in his written testimony. 

Grant’s comments came during an Aging Committee hearing titled, “Insulin Access and Affordability: The Rising Cost of Treatment.” U.S. Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, is the Chairwoman of the Aging Committee. 

“People with diabetes who use insulin, particularly those with Type 1, need this medication every day in order to live – it is a matter of life or death. While the prescription drug market, and the insulin market specifically, is opaque to virtually everyone involved, one fact is clear: the patients are not getting the best deal,” said Collins in a press release. 

In his testimony, Grant said that his son relies on two types of insulin, and that in 2017, the typical cost was approximately $450 for a 90-day supply of the two prescriptions. He said that those costs soared to over $900 starting this January. 

“That’s nearly $1,000 for a treatment that Solomon absolutely needs, and about three times more than I had been paying. I immediately went into panic mode as I was low on Humalog and I had to get it as soon as possible. I tried to get answers from my insurance company but received little help or explanation. I don’t think they even understand our health plan – I know I don’t,” Grant explained. “I ended up purchasing a 30-day supply at Wal-Mart to get me by until I could figure things out. The 30-day supply cost me $322.64 (with a coupon). I had no choice – Sol had to have insulin.”

Grant said that he does not have insurance through his employer, and that he purchases insurance for himself and his children through the health insurance marketplace, which he described as “very expensive and very complicated.” 

Tuesday’s hearing dove into the reasons for rising insulin prices and the affect cost increases can have on patients’ access to treatment. An official from the American Diabetes Association testified that the direct and indirect costs of the disease increased by 26 percent in five years and cost a total of $327 billion in 2017. 

The ADA official said that figures makes diabetes the most expensive chronic illness in the country, and added that about $15 billion of that total is spent on insulin. 

“I do not understand why insulin for children with Type 1 Diabetes is so expensive and why I can purchase it in Canada for so much less,” Grant continued in his testimony. “We are just talking about the cost of insulin today, but there are many other things like insulin pumps and glucose monitors out there that would make children’s lives and parents’ lives so much easier if they were more affordable.”

Matt Junker can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or mjunker@keepmecurrent.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MattJunker.

Paul Grant of New Gloucester testified Tuesday before the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, which Maine Sen. Susan Collins chairs. 

Paul Grant’s 13-year-old son Solomon relies on two types of insulin to treat his type 1 diabetes. 

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