TULSA, Okla. — Each year, nearly 25,000 people in Oklahoma are diagnosed with diabetes. That number is in addition to the nearly 400,000 people already diagnosed in the state.
On World Diabetes Day, 2 News is digging into the cost of diabetes care in the state and how one woman is advocating for lower insulin prices.
There are several types of diabetes but the two most known are Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the body doesn’t produce insulin at all and does not have a cure. Type 2 is when the body produces insulin but not enough. Megan Quickle has Type 1. She was diagnosed at three years old after catching the flu. And since, Quickle has become an advocate for diabetes care and education.
“From the very beginning I pricked my fingers, took insulin shots my entire life and then at 12 I was able to get my first insulin pump and so I’ve had that for a little over 25 years now and for the last five years I’ve also worn a continuous glucose monitor or CGM,” said Quickle.
Quickle said because she was diagnosed early, she’s learned what her body needs and how to take care of it. But even on the best days, she says it’s still a struggle, especially with the rising cost of insulin.
“Insulin is what keeps me alive. There’s not a day that I can’t have it. I would die without insulin,” said Quickle.
Insulin was discovered in 1921. The patent was sold for $1 because the doctors who discovered it wanted it to be attainable for everyone. But fast forward 100 years, the price has gone up substantially, with one vial ranging from $50 to several hundred dollars.
“People are choosing between food and their bills and insulin. And that is just crazy to me that it’s those life-altering decisions of: Do I pay my rent this month or do I buy my insulin?” said Quickle.
Quickle and her mother created the organization “Turn Tulsa Blue for Diabetes” to help spread awareness of the disease and the need for a cap on insulin prices. The duo has spoken with state leaders and legislators to reach an agreement on a price cap for the drug so those who need it don’t go without or are forced to ration their medication.
According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly $4 billion goes into diabetes care in Oklahoma each year. That care includes preventative care, as well as care for complications like heart disease, stroke, amputation and liver failure. Quickle said that’s why she’s pushing so hard for a price cap and educating others.
“We need to do something to not only find a cure but to have better technology, to have better access to that technology. But also to make sure that now that insulin prices have dramatically increased just the past decade, that people have access to insulin,” said Quickle.
Quickle works alongside the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition which last week sent a letter to Oklahoma Senator James Lankford asking he consider a $35 cap on insulin prices so Oklahomans don’t have to choose between paying rent and lifesaving insulin.
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