27-year-old dies after using off-brand insulin because he couldn’t afford the recommended brand

first_imgA woman in Virginia is reporting that her fiancé died after they both switched to cheaper over-the-counter insulin because he could not afford the monthly cost of doctor recommended brand.According to the report, Josh Wilkerson who passed away June, recently aged out of his step-father’s health insurance plan and could not afford to pay the $1,200 a month cost to regulate his Type 1 diabetes. On top of that, he and his fiance, Rose Walters, who also has Type 1 diabetes, were trying to save money for their wedding.The couple asked the doctor about cheaper brands of medication and were told about ReliOn.“We figured: Hey, it’s $25. We can do that. And we’ll just work with it and try to do the best we can,” said Wilkerson’s fiancée Rose Walters.Walters says after the switch Wilkerson began complaining stomach problems and she noticed he would have mood swings from high blood sugar levels.Four months before their wedding, Walters says her fiance was asked to work the overnight shift at the Northern Virginia dog kennel while his manager was away on vacation. She began to worry about Wilkerson after not hearing from him while and decided to drive up to his job. That’s when  she found Wilkerson unconscious.He was taken to a hospital where doctors reported that he not only suffered several strokes hours after taking a dose of the cheaper insulin, but he fell into a coma with a blood sugar level that was 17 times higher than normal.Wilkerson was kept on life support for five days before his family made the decision to remove him from the machinery.While the brand commonly sold at places like Walmart does work, experts report that it takes a longer time, sometimes up to four hours, for the medication to regulate patient blood sugar levels. The prescription brand, however, can take as little as 20 minutes to metabolize.According to the Washington Post patients who take ReliOn or any cheaper brand of insulin must adhere to a strict schedule and make sure they take the correct dosage far enough in advance of eating for it to work.Walters is hoping that sharing her story will help draw attention to the rising cost of the much needed medication for people with diabetes.“It’s very hard,” Walters said. “How many more young Type 1 diabetes patients have to die before something finally changes?”last_img

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