Nearly half of diabetics skimp on treatment due to high insulin cost

HOUSTON - Almost half of diabetics in America have cut back on treatment at some point due to the price of insulin hitting new heights.

“Its not regulated so, if you don't have a lot of competition for something like insulin that's available for folks, then the price is going to be pretty much jacked up,” says Dr. Ezemenari Obasi, an associate dean of Research at the University of Houston.

According to the American Diabetes Association, between 2002 and 2013 the average price of insulin has nearly tripled.

Another study published today in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found a link between diabetes and pancreatic cancer.

For 20 years, researchers followed the health of 50,000 African-American and Hispanic men and women over the age of 50.

Of those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, over 50% were diagnosed with diabetes in the three years leading up to that point.

With no reliable screening tests for pancreatic cancer, identifying high-risk individuals could increase survival rates for a very deadly cancer. Only about 8% of patients live five years beyond their diagnosis.

Here locally, the University of Houston is trying to make a difference.

“We recently got funding from the United Health Foundation that was a $2 million grant that allows us to go into the Third Ward and East End, so primarily focusing on African American and Hispanic populations, to look at how we can prevent and treat diabetes,” Dr. Obasi said.

University of Houston’s Health Research Institute aims to reach 5,000 Third Ward residents in their own community through outreach like free health fair's  that offer screenings for diabetes.

But it's not cost alone keeping people from being treated.

“I think knowledge about the risk associated with diabetes is a factor, Dr. Obasi explained. "Many people don't know that if you go without diabetes untreated that you could actually get amputations, that you could suffer a heart attack, that you could go blind, and so folks don't take it seriously because they have relatives that have and say 'so and so has diabetes, and they're fine,' and we don't always know the downstream effects,."

Prevention is obviously preferred, but in a state where one in three adults is obese, and more than 11% of adults have diabetes, Texas can't afford not to treat this silent killer.