Why Diabetics Are Making Homemade Insulin
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Why Diabetics Are Making Homemade Insulin

October 31, 2019


In this little vial is a manufactured form of insulin. I injected into my body because my pancreas, which normally produces insulin, doesn’t make it anymore. Our bodies need insulin to metabolize glucose to create energy. Access to insulin means life or death for millions of Type 1 diabetics like myself. But since 2002 the price of insulin has more than tripled. The market is dominated by three companies: Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi. But there’s a team of biohackers in Oakland, California who are trying to change that. Insulin is not all that hard to make. We are developing a technique that is based on pretty standard ways of producing and purifying proteins. Anthony Di Franco is a Type 1 diabetic who’s testing an open source protocol for small batch insulin production. His goal is to create a future where hospitals and pharmacies could make insulin themselves rather than relying on the current companies who manufacture it. We think that if there were thousands of manufacturers instead of just three then it would be much easier to get. You would reach many more people who need it and the price would be much lower. Unfortunately, the high price of insulin in the U.S. has led some diabetics to buy it from other countries, off the black market or in extreme cases rationing their doses. In order for him to keep his same physicians and same network of Pharmacy and doctors, the plan was going to cost $450 a month with a $7,600 deductible. Nicole Smith-Holt lost her son Alec after he started rationing his insulin. He had just turned 26 and couldn’t be on her insurance anymore. His insulin costs were more than a $1,000 a month. He died of diabetic ketoacidosis because he couldn’t afford the amount of insulin that he needed. I think ultimately the responsibility lies on the insurance companies. The pricing has gotten to be so expensive, so unaffordable for all diabetics. You know I don’t think they ever realized that so many people would be paying out of pocket or to be on such high-deductible plans that they would be paying list price. The whole supply chain and the insurance companies actually are responsible at this point. But the reason why insulin is priced so high is complicated. It involves negotiations between manufacturers, pharmacies, insurance companies and middlemen. Even lawmakers are trying to figure out who to blame for the high price. The price of insulin has tripled during the last decade. 50, 60 years or more with the production of insulin by pharmaceutical companies and we have no generics. Before insulin was discovered diabetes was a death sentence. Patients typically died within weeks or months after diagnosis but in 1921 insulin was discovered by Sir Frederick Banting. The first versions of it were extracted from animals and it took two tons of pig pancreas is to make just eight ounces of insulin. Ironically, Banting sold the patent rights to the University of Toronto for just one dollar in an effort to make insulin easily available to those who needed it. In the 1970s researchers discovered a way to synthesize human insulin in a lab which turned out to be more effective than animal insulin. Since then insulin makers have continued to innovate and with each new form of insulin they get faster and better than the previous versions. Making the older ones obsolete and patent protections have hindered others from entering the market. The insulin process is very complex and rigorous process that involves nearly 5,000 people across the globe. From the start of fermentation until we get to the final delivery system it takes several months. U.S. pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly was the first to commercially produce insulin in the 1920s and is one of the companies heavily criticized for the price increase in insulin. But many of its older insulin formulations have not been patent protected for several years and yet there are still no generic, cheaper forms of them available on the market. In a statement Lilly said there aren’t many insulin manufacturers because discovering developing and manufacturing insulin is scientifically and technically very precise, difficult and requires billions of dollars in long-term investments. Companies have to make a long-term commitment to be in this industry. Not many are able or willing to do so. But Open Insulin disagrees. By doing it in the way that we’re doing it, we should be able to reach similar cost of manufacturer to what others who’ve been working in industrial settings have obtained, which is somewhere between $5 to $15 a vial. Right now we are just finishing work on making a slow-acting insulin and we’re starting to try to figure out how to add a fast-acting insulin to the portfolio of things that we’re developing. Open Insulin is in the process of testing its long-acting insulin. But after that comes a long road of legal and regulatory hurdles. It hopes by proving it can make insulin at such a small scale it could eventually increase more competition and cheaper more accessible insulin. In the meantime, insulin continues to be very expensive. Insulin manufacturers have started offering assistance programs and there are global campaigns by organizations such as T1 International and JDRF who are working to make insulin more affordable. You know these situations are really tragic that people would have problems accessing insulin, which is necessary for people with Type 1 diabetes to stay alive. So we need companies, we need the federal government, we need employers, we need health plans, we need everybody to do their part in order to make insulin more affordable. We need people to stay healthy until there’s a cure and affordable insulin is a really important part of that.

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  1. Sooo the supply is there, but it cost too much? I think that would have been be a good angle to elaborate more.

    Pro tip: You could even do some kinda investigative report and talk to people affected by the price hikes. Maybe link this to the report and say something like things have gotten so bad that it has become necessary for people to try and make it in a "budget" lab (that equipment is still expencive).

    I don't know, it's your naritive.
    I'm just sayin.

  2. Recreational use of insulin and making your own is extremely dangerous.

    One wrong dose and you're dead.

  3. We ought to spend less money for the military industrial complex and focus on battling the medical industrial complex. Lets face it, a market economy on health matters just does'nt work .

  4. Sooooo government intervention into the healthcare slows it down? Giving hospitals the ability to produce items to the free market may make the items cheaper? Who woulda thunk!

  5. What I do look forward to, is the amount of technology etc… that my kids and their kids will have access to. This will be a huge boost to our lives and health and will begin to cut away at massive corporations.

  6. Or you could just come to Ontario Canada,with your prescription and visit any pharmacy,pay $30.00 and get 1 month supply.

  7. This is why as a diabetic I'm so happy to live in the Scotland with free healthcare. I would be looking at an £800($1000) a month just on insulin

  8. Novolog is a short term insulin, while Levemir is  a long term insulin (I take both twice a day). As far as affording insulin at all, maybe if the vast majority of insulin dependent patients did not blow all their money on drugs, booze, the latest fashions, & the coolest electronics, they would have money for the medicine they need to continue living.

    Being retired, I am on a fixed income, so, I do not get that much money a month, but since I manage what money I do get, I can afford to buy what medicine I do need to survive & still manage to have some left over for other things.

    As far as trusting my continued exitance to two self-proclaimed "expert" lab rats I have never heard of before this YouTube video, I will take a pass.

    Just because you have seen a video on a topic on YouTube, dose not mean it is a realistic idea, or coming to a pharmacy near you soon.

  9. The medical industry is a corrupt racketeering venture. You don't need all this complicated interaction of intertwined middlemen between the supplier and end user. There's no reason to have few producers and distributors of medical products. The limitations of access and availability of most medicine are artificial with someone intentionally paying someone else to restrict competition in the fields. The problem is corruption plain and simple.

  10. Stupid companys jacking up the price just wait till i can make a medicine that can cure any deseas im gonna make Einstein proud

  11. They got the patent for 1 ducking dollar….so long ago all three companies should be confiscated and all executives and board members and large stock holders be held responsible for all deaths and also have all their assets seized…SHAME SHAME SHAME

    And this includes insurance and middle men…. especially

  12. So sad. And people still think capitalism is the best system. I bet the mom of the dead 26 year old can't even see the problem. Billionaires tried to make your son their slave. He chose death.

  13. Yeah, but Trump said he called the companies up and told them to cut their prices, and according to him, they said, 'Okay'. (Still don't understand how anyone can actually believe a single word that man says….)

    Look, don't get me wrong, I hope they succeed at this. But this is setting a dangerous precedent. 'Manufacture your own drugs' has Danger, Will Robinson written all over it in bright, flashing neon-red ink.

  14. Why some Americans don’t support socialized medicine is shocking. Living in Canada I am grateful I have never had to lay out a penny for my hiv meds while my peers in the US struggle to financially afford their meds. Capitalism and corporations are friggin evil and only work for the rich while destroying lives and the environment. Sad to see Americans perpetuating the myths about socialized medicine and education

  15. The People that we Elect allow medication costs to soar so that they can take a medial donation from these companies. It is the equivalent of selling your family for a crack rock. We need to have an intervention with our politicians and lawmakers, They are addicted to our money and don't know how to kick the habit.

  16. I wish someone found a better way to make insulin that is different to the current one patent that then sell it at a cheaper price for a better product and make those scunts at the other insulin companies obsolete

  17. 3:40 how to make better insulin its pure protein solution not varying compounds. As Gold is gold you can't make any better gold

  18. In Sweden medications is also quite pricey. Which is why it was put into law that after a certain point you have paid what is deemed feasible(current limits 2300sek for medication that is on recipes and some without, 1100sek for outpatient care, 1500sek for medical transportation) for you to pay, then we collectively pick up the tab through taxation. The högkostnadsskydd(high cost protection) has been a fundamental part of our healthcare system since 1979.
    It's not like we gladly pay the taxes out of the kindness of our hearth either, a healthy population is more productive, a productive population is better for the economy and a good economy is better for the individual consumer. Not to mention if anything happens to me or someone I actually care about, it feels pretty damn great to know that I/they are not going to go through financial ruin. It's purely in my own self interest to be a part of the collective when it comes to health care, there is quite literally nothing that would be better being outside of it,. Well I guess I would save 32600sek a year, I just checked if I lived in Vermont instead at my current income level I would have to pay close to twice for less coverage then I currently have, if I instead compared to Canada it became a little more muddled but all in all I would still pay on average more(1500cad ish more on average to be specific).

  19. You people have 2 options… Adapt or die…. Companies will not change… Human life doesn't matter to them… And if you can… Please stop buying from those big company, many Indian and France company sell the same drug for 1/5 to 1/10 the current price in the US… I saw people go all the way to mexico to buy cheap drug then just buy the drug in the US even saying the exact name of that drug company… The price is 1/2… But again, it doesn't worth it. Read the components and search for alternative non monopoly drug pharmacy's product with the same effect… Stop supporting them to enslave you… If you can, try to fight back the right way.
    And for those people who say "those who live in country which giveaway free medicine is enslaving others"… I have something to say…
    YOU ARE STUPID
    Everyone work and pay taxes, well… except for those crack head growing corn and soybean who licking subsidies from our bleeding wound…. And nobody is paying higher taxes than the American… Well, you see… In socialist country… Everyone pay their taxes even the rich… We don't enslave anyone, you are being enslave who work with no minimum wage and looking up to the rich who pay nothing… Lol…
    If you don't believe me, look at what your President promise, lower taxes?… How much tax return do you lost compare to the obama time? Does your insurance price rise cause he give you "lower taxes "? Does your tax actually lower?… Then you will see why we pay our taxes the right way.

  20. This isn’t a worldwide problem, it’s an american problem. In most countries, insuline are, if not free, very cheap.
    You can’t really blame the companies either. A company are in it for the money, so if a government makes it easy to put these prices, why would the company not take advantage of that? Sad? yes, but that’s how it is, and it’s never going to change unless the u.s health care changes

  21. Healthcare and pharma can never have any kind of private sector involvement. Any other alternative is just criminality.

  22. You can buy insulin online from India if you can get it through US Customs. Cost = less than $10
    The BS put out by the 3 big pharma's is just that – a big steaming pile of BS

  23. Medicine shouldn't be patented.
    It's as simple as that.
    "hahahaha, you want to live? Better pay thousands of dollars because i'm the only one legally allowed to make it"

  24. how about we stop lying to people about diabetes and insulin and start teaching how to eat healthily without the super high carbs which become sugar in our bloodstreams and require insulin to force into our already over saturated cells? a strict low carb diet will not only do wonders for your health but it will also save you thousands a year in reduced insulin needs.

  25. Interesting ( 0:19 )…..

    The steps seem to be LARGER after Obama implemented the ACA (Obamacare). So forcing people to pay "for profit" companies resulted in higher costs??? Nawwwww

  26. I admire the hell out of that mom for doing all these press stunts, reliving her son’s death so other parents don’t have to suffer like she did.

  27. It's not difficult to manufacture human recombinant insulin (the kind sold by pharma companies today). In India, several generics are available, many costing about $2 a vial (it's NOT subsidised), and yet the companies that manufacture them have large revenues and are self sustaining (Biocon, Wockhart etc.)

    In the USA, the supply chain is what makes insulin expensive, and the regulatory framework that prevents generic manufacturers from entering, often using tactics on of health and safety scares (they killed Ranbaxy, when it started making in-roads into the US market), ignoring that India has a larger population, and there have been no deaths or problems with using said generics here. On the other hand there have been problems with Johnson and Johnson's overpriced stuff here…it's currently in a very ugly lawsuit here due to its faulty metallic hip replacement joints.

  28. Its funny…my mother gets a vial of insulin at the Walmart Pharmacy for like $20 because her Medicare goes into the 'doughnut hole'. Just go and ask for it. You just have to inject, you dont get a handy dandy injector pen.

  29. simmple just put each one under oath make them tell them how much they sell it to the next then we will know who jacks up the price

  30. There is something fishy about the guy that died. If he was below the poverty line in Minnesota he would have qualified for Medicaid. If he was under 400% of the federal poverty level, he would have been eligible for government subsidies. Somebody explain this to me.

  31. Don''t watch this video. Total waste of time. Whole video boils down to: insulin is expensive. There are 3 manufacturers. Some guy is trying to make it cheaper.

  32. looks like the trend was somewhat linear from 2000 ~ 2010 and then BOOMSHAKALAKA

    Exponential

    But CNBC is left right?
    I guess they won't admit

  33. Dissolve the AMA and FDA and the problem is solved. Free markets work. Nations without free markets who have the appearance of inexpensive or free medical systems are merely better at hiding the costs.

  34. WRONG! The people to blame is the government…. if there weren’t so damn many laws, companies would be able to manufacture it for cheaper and in turn you’d be able to buy it for cheaper, just look and the automobile industry. The most expensive average costs of new vehicles is in western culture, along with the most (ridiculous) amount of laws regarding vehicle “safety” (reality, pay our wages), if you got rid of those laws and give people the CHOICE of what kind of safety they want along with everything else, everything would get cheaper… competition would go up and in the end the product would only continue to improve… and get cheaper…

  35. a HUGE reason why its in demand is due to the fact that the rate of obesity has increased thus more diabetic people. I blame the lack of nutritional education taught in our schools and the fact that they dont regulate addictive sugar being in every product in the super market.

  36. 0:37 thats what "free market" means, it means allowing people like those to exist. But socialists and leftists in general wants to push rules and regulation that while might not outright ban those people would make their work essentialy impossible

  37. Walmart has Novolin, long acting, fast acting and 70/30 for $24.88 per vial. You haven't done adequate research.

  38. People wonder what America is…..this is America….people worried about a dollar over a life. Look up VSL, (Value of a statistical life) its the data used by the US government to show the value of a life in terms of money. The biggest thing its used for is vehicle manufacturers. You ever wonder why in a car and you don’t wear a seatbelt in the backseat you don’t hear the “ding” you’d hear if your were in the front seat? The VSL was used to determine that the value of a life doesn’t out-way the profit made when not adding this feature. Im not making this up. Look into it yourself. America was a land of promise before money became the only goal.

  39. Insulin used to be cheap cheap cheap…. President Trump needs to address this problem the drug companies are being robber barons

  40. This is not free market, this is price fixing.
    The government needs to step in because the companies are colluding to all raise prices.

  41. Insulin is not a secret formula. Other companies could make if they want to. Why won't other companies produce it? Why aren't older insulin formulas made by generic companies? Pork and Beef insulin would be better than nothing!

  42. Thank you VICE for helpin us expose are problems. You amazing . May the lord bless your company YouTube channel. 😢🙏🤲🙌

  43. US$ 19.25/ injectable insulin/ tube is the price of insulin in the Philippines..and a 20% discount applies if you are a Senior Citizen, a PWD(person w/disability) or a single parent.
    The insulin is branded and manufactured in Germany.
    Of course, the Philippines is considered by the advanced Western countries as a backward,third world country so not much is done by its government to lower the price of medicine for its poorer citizens..
    an observation by the UN WHO and Human Rights commission..

  44. I appreciate your efforts mister. However, have you considered that diabetes might be intimately tied to a deficiency in iodine. Dr. David Brownstein, Dr. Edward Group, Sherry Tenpenny, Dr. Seneff, Dr. Mercola and many others think so. Consider looking into that. Great video. God bless your journey

  45. In Indiana at Walmart you can with a prescription get insulin called novolin R and N at 25 bucks a bottle. I am self pay and a type 1 and i had this problem for years. Finding this cheaper insulin literally saved my life so im putting this comment here in the hopes it helps somebody else.

  46. Those CEOs want to go from being Millionaires to Billionaires and don’t give a Damed what the Cost and How many lives it Takes.Might as well be a Hostage!!!

  47. A bottle of novolog costs 258 bucks a vial which for a type 1 is about a two week supply with a typical diet. each vial is 10 ml diabetics measure insulin in units so each ml is about 100 units so 2 dollars and 58 cents a unit, each dose is comprised of several units, say 7 unit average dose would cost about $18.58 You use 2 bottles a month if you are a typical diabetic which equals 516 bucks which is basically a rent payment on a house.

  48. A bottle of novolog costs 258 bucks a vial which for a type 1 is about a two week supply with a typical diet. each vial is 10 ml diabetics measure insulin in units so each ml is about 100 units so 2 dollars and 58 cents a unit, each dose is comprised of several units, say 7 unit average dose would cost about $18.58 You use 2 bottles a month if you are a typical diabetic which equals 516 bucks which is basically a rent payment on a house.

  49. First they get you addicted to sugar, so you get diabetes; then they sell you the medication that they only have the monopoly on, at high prices.

  50. The drug manufacturers are some of the greediest industries on the planet. It's also seems to be an American issue, that's why many go to Canada for prescriptions. Remember the guy that bought the patent for an HIV med then immediately jacked up the cost by 800% or so? As long as there are lobbyists in Washington prices will never come down. I've often said we have the best politicians money can buy.

  51. CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT AGAINST ALL INSULIN MANUFACTURERS FOR HYPERINFLATING THE CRITICAL DRUG AND LEADING TO DEATHS!

  52. How about you dumbasses just change your diet and stop being dependent on others. Diabetes is NOT a disease, it is an addiction.

  53. This is exactly what is the major problem between US and India,US wants India to do the same. Patent should be given on method and not on product.

  54. Its covered by public healthcare in my country so my mom ain‘t paying nothing for insulin 💁🏻‍♂️
    (I live in a 1st world country)

  55. Can't relate, here in sweden Everything medicin you need related to your Diabetes is free.

    And any other chronic disease medicin is are also free.

  56. Insurance companies? It's the politicians!!!! Simple you get rid of them you put in those who are not corrupt by these companies and it's fixed

  57. My sister works in a hospital. She says the #1 most needless issues they have, is having to admit patients because they can't afford diabetes meds.

  58. Nothing is sadder than witnessing a disease that used to be a death sentence becoming treatable only to go back to a death sentence.

  59. In Germany I never heard what's cost is insulin because in Germany everyone has medical insurance & that's why all kinds of medicines are free!

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