Man Died After Using Cheaper Insulin While Trying To Save Up For Wedding
After aging out of his family’s private health insurance, Josh Wilkerson could no longer afford the prescription brand of insulin he needed.
So, in an effort to save costs and manage his Type 1 diabetes, the 27-year-old Virginia man switched to a cheaper, less-effective brand. And it cost him his life.
He began rationing his pricey prescription before a doctor recommended taking ReliOn, an over-the-counter brand sold for $25 a vial at Walmart.
A few hours after taking another dose of the lower-grade medication that June day in Leesburg, Mr. Wilkerson was in the throes of a diabetic coma – his blood sugar level 17 times higher than what is considered normal.
Josh and his fiancée Rose had been planning to get married on October 2019.
Tragically, Rose found Josh unresponsive at the northern Virginia dog kennel where he worked. He had suffered multiple strokes and fallen into a diabetic coma.
His family and fiancee made the heartbreaking decision to turn off his life support machine. Josh was just 27 when he lost his life.
The insulin Josh switched to is known as ‘human insulin’, which predates the ‘analogue insulin’ more routinely prescribed by doctors.
“It’s very hard,” said his fiancee, Rose Walters, 27, who, like Mr. Wilkerson, was born with a congenital form of the disease known as type 1 diabetes. “How many more young type 1 diabetes patients have to die before something finally changes?”
Josh’s mum, Erin Weaver said: “People in the United States of America are dying from type 1 diabetes. For many people, the cost of life-saving medications each month is the same as an average month’s rent – or more.
“How is an average American to afford this? When it comes to type 1 diabetes, people are facing unthinkable decisions – between the costs of living and their very lives – because they live with a non-preventable disease.”
In May, the governor of Colorado signed legislation meaning that insurance co-payments on insulin should be capped to $100 (£82) a month, which should hopefully prevent similar tragedies in the future. The Trump administration claims they are looking at ways to reduce the cost of prescription drugs such as insulin also.