St. Paul, MN - Since taking effect last July, the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy has reported that 465 Minnesotans have obtained access to life-saving insulin thanks to the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act. Alec Smith was a 26-year-old Minnesotan who, being unable to afford the $1,300 monthly cost of insulin, died rationing his medication after aging out of his parents’ insurance. The law in Alec’s memory provides an emergency safety net to individuals with an urgent need for insulin, as well as a long-term assistance program.
“In just the few short months that Alec’s law has been in place, it’s already saving lives by providing affordable insulin to the Minnesotans who need it the most,” said Rep. Michael Howard (DFL - Richfield), who authored the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act in the Minnesota House. “This data underscores the importance of this hard-fought law which illustrates Minnesotans with diabetes continue to struggle to afford a medication they need to survive. We must remain diligent in promoting Alec’s Law so that Minnesotans are aware of this life-saving program while also working to tackle the systemic issues responsible for the unacceptable high cost of prescription drugs.”
The annual report, which is required by state law, shows as many as 465 Minnesotans used the program to secure an emergency or ongoing supply of insulin - 222 of those using the program in a time of urgent need, potentially saving their lives. The participating insulin manufacturers, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi, provided a combined total value of $2,148,564.74 in insulin to Minnesotans through this program.
“The Family of Alec Smith feel truly blessed that we have created a program in Minnesota that is saving lives,” said Nicole Smith-Holt. “The cost of insulin continues to rise and people continue to have barriers in accessing it at an affordable price which leads to death in far too many cases. Our hope is that Alec's Law continues to save lives not only in Minnesota but in other states as well.”
Under the law, eligible individuals in urgent need of insulin can go to their pharmacy once in a 12-month period and receive a one-time, 30-day supply of insulin for a $35 co-pay. The long-term program requires manufacturers to provide insulin to eligible individuals for up to one year, available in 90-day increments for a co-pay of no more than $50. Manufacturers must reimburse pharmacies for the insulin they dispense or send them replacement insulin at no cost.
“As we worked with people with T1 diabetes and their families on the unacceptably high costs of insulin, we saw plainly the need for a safety net,” said Senator Melissa Wiklund, (DFL - Bloomington). “Seeing the number of Minnesotans who have used this program shows us that access and cost are serious issues, and that the program that we put in place is saving lives. We must continue to get the word out that there is a way to access a 30-day supply in an emergency, and we also must do more to make affordable insulin available to all who need it to live their lives.”
Minnesotans in urgent need of a 30-day supply of affordable insulin should go to MNinsulin.org where you can see if you qualify, download the application, and learn how to apply today.