“Our society is punishing patients with diabetes”: Gainesville hosts Town Hall on insulin prices

Gainesville, Florida, home of the University of Florida, is a center of medical education, with a strong community of clinician and patient activists. Gainesville doctors and patients alike are becoming more and more concerned with the the skyrocketing prices of insulin making the life-saving medicine unaccessible. 

That’s why the Right Care Gainesville chapter held a town hall event this past weekend, bringing diabetes experts , educators, and patient advocates to discuss this critical issue, the Gainesville Sun reports. The panelists included an endocrinologist from the University of Florida, a nurse practitioner whose child has Type 1 diabetes, and an 11-year-old girl with Type 1 diabetes who was already concerned about her future.

Chapter leaders Dr. Fred Southwick and Jeff Santerre are hoping the town hall will bring more awareness of this problem to community members, who may not realize how unaffordable insulin has become.

“We want to educate the public,” said Southwick, quoted in the article. “It’s almost as if our society is punishing our diabetic patients.”

Southwick also notes that making insulin unaffordable costs our health care system much more in the long run. An admission to the ICU for ketoacidosis (a complication of untreated diabetes) can cost an uninsured patient $20,000 to $25,000, he said. 

The issue of rising health costs hits home for Santerre, whose family has dealt with paying immense costs for cancer and diabetes treatment for his wife.

“No one with a chronic disease like diabetes should have to undergo the process of choosing between health and quality of life,” he said.

This town hall event is the chapter’s first big event in the insulin campaign, building off their early work recruiting via one-on-one conversations in their institutions and writing opinion pieces about rising insulin prices. The chapter has grown from a few leaders to at least ten core members. The chapter plans to hold more events, including a direct action, to address insulin prices.

If you’re interested in joining the Gainesville chapter, send an email to Gainesville@rightcarealliance.org.