By STACY M. BROWN
Eli Lilly and others in the pharmaceutical industry are on the front lines of research and innovation, according to Nathaniel Miles, the vice president for strategic initiatives at Eli Lilly, who led a discussion on innovative advancements in health care during the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s Midwinter Training Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Presenting the topic, “Lilly Diabetes Solution Center and the NNPA: Vital Roles in Partnership that Serve African American Communities Around the Nation, he said historically, expensive medications for diabetes and other diseases have become more affordable because of extensive research and innovation that’s taking place in the industry.
“We constantly have to innovate, and we cannot rest on last year’s medical advances,” Miles stated.
“With Magic Johnson, people thought when he made the announcement that he had HIV that he would die. It’s 30 years later, and he’s still here because people kept investing, and now you can see the difference.”
Diabetes is a disease that occurs when the blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. African American adults are 60 % more likely than White adults to have been diagnosed with diabetes by a physician. In 2016, Black people were 3.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with end-stage renal disease as compared to White people, according to the Office of Minority Health.
After being diagnosed with diabetes, many people require a regular dose of insulin to remain healthy. But insulin had always been expensive for most and required constant refrigeration.
“If you left your insulin out of the refrigeration, it was no longer any good,” Miles stated.
Yet with new innovations, he said things have changed.
“We have insulin that now can last for up to four weeks without refrigeration,” he stated. “For instance, in Puerto Rico, even though the power was not on after the hurricane, no one had their insulin go bad.”
Miles told the audience at the conference that Eli Lilly’s Diabetes Solution Center has helped to pave the way for innovative progress.
The center counts as a new patient-focused helpline with representatives who will identify personalized solutions to address insulin affordability. He stated that this suite of solutions would provide many options – some being offered for the first time – that can significantly lower and cap high monthly out-of-pocket costs for some people who use Lilly insulin, such as Humalog and Humulin. Dedicated representatives will review the personal circumstances and identify options for people who pay near the full list price, such as the uninsured and people in the deductible phase of their high-deductible insurance plans, as well as potential solutions for people with lower incomes.
“We don’t want anyone to have to pay full list price for their insulin, and many people who do will be able to pay significantly less by calling our helpline,” Miles stated. “Our goal is to ensure that people paying high out-of-pocket costs for Lilly insulin are matched with the best solution available to reduce their financial burden and help ensure they receive the treatment they need.”