Vermilion: Improving access to over-the-counter insulin

Posted by: Lydia Kirschner  | Friday, February 21, 2020

Diabetes is a serious health issue that can affect all aspects of a person’s life. In Indiana, more than 738,000 Hoosiers have been diagnosed with this disease. For those with Type 1 diabetes, insulin is critical to staying healthy. This session, I sponsored legislation that would remove barriers for those in need of insulin.

For Type 1, or insulin-dependent diabetes, the body’s immune system produces little to no insulin, making it necessary to receive insulin from a pump or injection daily to survive. Insulin allows the body to absorb sugar and plays an important role in providing energy. Unfortunately, Type 1 diabetes has no cure, and it can only be managed by insulin combined with a healthy lifestyle.

State law currently requires a prescription to purchase insulin. This requirement can create complications for insulin-dependent Hoosiers. For example, a person’s prescription may expire and their doctor is unavailable to write a new one. Getting a new prescription can take time, and someone with Type 1 diabetes cannot wait. Without this medicine, people with Type 1 diabetes suffer from diabetic ketoacidosis, or DKA, which can lead to death if left untreated.

Currently, knowingly selling insulin without a prescription is a level 5 or 6 felony in Indiana, and those caught could face jail time.  Legislation I am sponsoring would repeal the prescription requirement and improve access to insulin by allowing synthetic human insulin, more commonly known as over-the-counter insulin, to be purchased without a prescription. Because insulin-dependent Hoosiers most in need are often uninsured and over-the-counter insulin is less expensive, this bill could lower cost.

Many states have taken action to remove barriers for getting insulin. Already pharmacists across the country sell over-the-counter insulin options that could be sold in Indiana. It is time for our state to join these efforts and make insulin easier to get for those who need it.

Providing easier access to insulin would benefit our state’s overall health by ensuring Hoosiers with Type 1 diabetes are able to get the medicine they need. Senate Enrolled Act 255 passed out of the House unanimously and can now be considered by the governor as a new law.

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State Rep. Ann Vermilion (R-Marion) represents House District 31,
which includes all of Blackford County and portions of Delaware,
Grant and Wells counties.
Click here to download a high-resolution photo.