Woman says son died because he couldn’t afford insulin

A Minnesota woman is pushing for lower insulin prices after she said her diabetic son died because he couldn’t afford the medicine.

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Nicole Smith-Holt told CBS News Friday that her son, Alec, was a Type 1 diabetic and had to take insulin every day to survive. When he turned 26, his parents' insurance would no longer cover the cost of the drug.

Prices for insulin and supplies rose to about $1,300 per month, Smith-Holt said. Alec didn’t tell his mother he was struggling with the costs. He began rationing his insulin, Smith-Holt said, and died after falling into a diabetic coma alone in his apartment.

“Nobody to be there with him, to hold his hand or to call for help … and then I think about if he had never moved out, if he had lived at home, somebody would’ve, you know, seen the signs,” she said. “And I’ll probably feel guilty every day for the rest of my life.”

Smith-Holt said she’s dealing with her grief by advocating for other Type 1 diabetics.

More than 30 million people in the United States have diabetes, with about 5 percent of those having Type 1, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The price of insulin tripled between 2002 and 2013, CBS News reported. An investigation by the Associated Press found that in the first seven months of 2018, drugmakers imposed 96 price hikes for every price cut.

State and federal agencies are taking notice of the effects of insulin price increases. Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson is suing three insulin manufacturers for what she calls "deceptive, misleading, and misrepresentative list prices." The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced in December it plans to regulate insulin differently to encourage price competition.

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