What You Need to Know About Insulin

What You Need to Know About Insulin

Whether you are a diabetic or know and love someone who is, you probably have heard about insulin. Insulin is extremely important for the body and when there isn’t enough being produced, it can cause serious side effects and issues in the body. If you yourself think you may be suffering from insulin issues, are curious to know more about diabetes, or want some more information about insulin in general, check out all you need to know about insulin below.

What Exactly is Insulin?

In a nutshell, insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. The pancreas also makes something called enzymes which help digestion by breaking down sugar, fats, and starches in the body. Going back to insulin, the main role is to help lower glucose levels in your bloodstream and promote the storage of fat, muscle, liver, and other tissues in the body. So, essentially, insulin helps to keep your potentially rowdy pancreas in check. 

History of Insulin 

The history of insulin started in 1889 when two German researchers found that removing the pancreas gland would cause issues with diabetes. By the 1910s surgeon, Frederick Banting and researcher John MacLeod discovered that they could remove it and replicate it. In 1922, they used their replication of insulin and administered it to a young boy who was dying of diabetes, who miraculously then had his blood levels returned to normal. Because of this success, insulin was then sole and commercially distributed by pharmaceutical companies. Although insulin’s breakthrough discovery has saved millions of lives since its invention, it’s definitely come at a cost (quite literally), which we will cover later on. 

Issues with Insulin Resistance 

So, what exactly is insulin resistance and the issues that come along with it like diabetes and other issues. When the body experiences insulin resistance, this is due to the cells in your muscle, fat, and liver not responding to insulin as it should and can’t transfer glucose to your blood like it’s supposed to. Because of this, your pancreas goes into overdrive and starts to pump more insulin into the body, which can cause blood sugar levels to go up, which can cause issues such as diabetes, stroke, heart attacks, and other serious health issues. 

Insulin is Ridiculously Overpriced 

Now that you understand the history and why insulin is so important to those suffering from diabetes and other insulin-resistant issues, it is also important to understand that it is extremely overpriced, which as a life-saving drug, is a sad reality. Pharmaceutical companies have spiked the price of insulin, thus making it almost impossible for those who need it but struggle financially to be able to afford it. To give you a more clear picture of how much the cost of insulin has gone up, in the 1960s, insulin was around $2.00 a vial and steadily grew until around 1996 when it was around $25 a vial. By 2001 it had jumped to $25 per vial then rapidly spiked to almost $300 per vial. 

Why is Insulin so Expensive?

You’re probably thinking why exactly insulin is so expensive and are pharmaceutical companies getting away with spiking the price of it. Well, there are a couple of different factors here. The main reason is that only three companies have about 90% control on the global market for insulin, so that means they get to control the price and even have a monopoly on insulin in some countries. Another reason is there is no generic insulin product out there since insulin is created from the body and there isn’t a chemical synthetic version that can be recreated to produce a generic version for cheaper. Finally, the biggest and most obvious reason, at the end of the day pharmaceutical companies, is to make as much money as possible. 

Insulin Is Life Saving and Deserves to be Affordable

Although pharmaceutical companies will probably never change their pricing, unless the government steps in, there are companies out there fighting the good fight to ensure that people have access to affordable insulin and other life-saving medication. Some companies will even get you lower prices for insulin without insurance. So, the news about insulin isn’t all bad, and it’s good to know there are actions being made to combat pharmaceutical price-gouging.

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