How to save money by using little-known form of prescription insulin treatment in concentrated form. Eli Lilly manufactures U-500 insulin at 5x normal strength.
We receive a lot of feedback from our readers as well as links to websites containing articles that we think may be of interest to those of you looking to save money on their diabetes testing supplies, medications or medical treatment. We try to pass along as many of these as we can.
Another great article recently submitted to us comes from the website Diabetes Education Voices, an online publication of the American Association of Diabetes Educators.
In a nutshell, the article alerts diabetics as to the availability of Humulin U-500 insulin, which is made by Eli Lilly Co. What’s the difference between U-500 and most other insulins, and how can it save you money? Glad you asked!
Insulin: What’s The Big Difference?
Unlike most insulin medications prescribed to diabetics for injection (typically referred to as U-100), Humulin U-500 contains a much more concentrated dosage. In fact, drop for drop, U-500 contains approximately 5x the amount of insulin as the average insulin injection. It is typically prescribed to diabetics who need large doses (200+ units) of insulin each and every day. It greatly cuts down on the amount of time required to make injections and results in less chance of scarring from needle marks. It’s easier to carry around and more convenient.
Other than being in a higher concentration, there really seems to be little difference between U-500 and Eli Lilly’s standard line of insulin. Both seem to work for diabetics equally well, with perhaps a slight improvement in performance with U-500 for those requiring very large doses.
So, How Do I Save Money On Insulin?
Here’s the financial “loophole” in using U-500. Although it is concentrated at approximately 5x the strength of normal insulin, it only costs about twice as much as regular (U-100) insulin at the retail level. So, while you may be paying twice as much money, you’re getting five times as much actual medication. By our math, that’s about a 60% savings on every prescription.
If you are currently being prescribed normal dosages of Eli Lilly insulin by your physician, you may want to ask them if it would be possible to switch you to the more concentrated version U-500. The only difference you should notice between using the two is the extra money left in your wallet at the end of the month with U-500.
The Bottom Line
Even if you are already covered by medical insurance, this strategy may still help you. If you have a deductible for each prescription drug you need filled, you will need refills of concentrated insulin much less frequently, thus avoiding additional co-pays. This would seem a no-brainer to anyone who uses Eli Lilly’s insulin products already. Be sure to ask your physician if it is right for your situation though, and don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion.