The price of insulin is more than 8 times higher in the United States than in 32 other high-income comparison countries combined, according to a study by the RAND Corporation.

Over the past decade, insulin prices have skyrocketed, with a previous study showing that annual insulin spending among adults with employer-sponsored health insurance doubling from $1432 to $2853 between 2012 and 2016, despite a 50% rebate. Another federal analysis found that the average wholesale acquisition price for rapid-, long-, and short-acting insulin increased by 15% to 17% per year from 2012 to 2016.

The authors of the current study used manufacturer prices for the analysis. The final prices paid for insulin is likely to be much lower due to rebates and other discounts. The average price per unit across all types of insulin was $98.70.

The study found that the price of insulin in the United States ranged from 3.8 times higher in Chile to 27.7 times higher in Turkey. When compared with one of our closest neighbors, US prices were 6.3 times higher than in Canada. The United Kingdom was also much lower, with prices in the United States being 8.9 times higher.

"This analysis provides the best available evidence about how much more expensive insulin is in the US than in other nations around the world," the study's lead author and senior policy researcher at RAND, Andrew Mulcahy, PhD, said in a press release. "Prices in the US are always much higher than other nations, even if you assume steep discounts to manufacturer prices in the United States."

US prices were even higher when investigators compared prices pooling similar insulin products together, which suggests that the United States uses a more expensive mix of insulin products, according to the study.

Reference
US Insulin prices 8 times higher than in other nations [News Release] October 6, 2020; Santa Monica, CA. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-10/rc-uip100620.php. Accessed October 7, 2020.