Diabetes is a Growing Epidemic

A recent report published in The Lancet Journal, a leading medical publication, states that since the year 1980 the number of adult diabetics has more than doubled worldwide. Currently the numbers reach a staggering 347 million; of those diabetics, roughly 138 million live in China and India and 36 million are from Russia and the United States. This study was implemented by a team of international researchers who worked in conjunction with The World Health Organization (WHO).

The most common type of diabetes is listed as type 2 diabetes, often called adult-onset diabetes, although more and more children under the age of 12 are developing type 2 diabetes. This type of diabetes is attributed to leading a sedentary lifestyle and eating processed foods.

Diabetes drug Victoza has low cost drug supply optionsCredit: Pamela Rodriquez-Wallace

Supplies Needed for Diabetics

There are few diseases known which require the strict monitoring and daily use of equipment and supplies that diabetes does. Some common supplies include:

  • Glucometer (blood sugar monitor)
  • Testing strips
  • Lancets
  • Alcohol swabs
  • Medications
  • Pen needles (if using injectable pen medications)
  • Syringes
  • Low blood sugar remedies such as glucose tablets (for raising blood sugar when it is at dangerously low levels)
  • Insulin pump


The high cost of diabetic supplies, you can find free suppliesCredit: digitalart, freedigitalphotos,com

The Business of High Blood Sugar

Dozens of treatments for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes exist on the market today. According to the drug research firm IMS Health, sales worldwide of oral and injectable treatments reached $35 billion in 2010 and is expected to rise to at least $48 Billion by 2015.  This does not include the cost of diabetic supplies.

When it comes to finding the cost the average diabetic must pay for reasonable control of this disease, the numbers are not so easily found. One informal study by Steven B. Leichter, MD, FACP, FACE, Sara Faulkner, and Joan Camp, RN of patients they treat at their practice shows patients pay an average of $220 per month in managing their disease. This includes medications and testing supplies. It did not take into account supplies necessary to treat diabetes-related complications such as neuropathy or changes in eyesight.

One other factor that must be weighed into the cost of diabetic supplies is that the high numbers of patients with type 2 diabetes are also on, at minimum, 2 other drugs for treating conditions linked with diabetes. Typically, these are conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

How to Control costs for Diabetes

For diabetic patients who are on a fixed income such as Medicare patients and those who are on a low income or not insured, these costs, or a portion of the costs, are shouldered by the patient, but there are options for this neglected segment of the population.

  • The first place to start is with your health care professionals; your doctor, nurse, diabetic nutritionist and pharmacist. They will know of programs which may be able to assist you with obtaining the proper supplies at affordable costs.
  • If you are insured, find out what your insurance will pay for.  Many insurance companies are migrating to drug warehouse pharmacies. These warehouse pharmacies ship supplies via mail to customers. All interaction done between you and the pharmacy is achieved using phone, mail, fax and online communications. Because these warehouses cater only to pharmaceutical supplies and medications and have very little overhead, they are equipped to offer insurance companies which contract with them, lower prices. These lower prices are rolled over to the patient.
  • Talk to the drug companies themselves. Often they will offer reduced or free supplies and medications for those who can prove they are low or no income. These offers may have a timeline on them, but it buys you time to search out other ways to fund your diabetic needs.
  • Many drug companies are offering coupons and rebates for medical supplies. Research them either online or by contacting the drug manufacturer directly.
  • Research the Internet. There is a wealth of information on this very subject and many handy websites you can use in seeking out lower cost supplies.
  • The local public health department might be able to help you. If you meet eligibility requirements, this can be a great resource.
  • Local health clinics are very knowledgeable in the programs that are available to their low-income patients. Many employ patient advocates for just this reason.
  • The manufacturers who make and market the testing supplies will occasionally offer free glucose meters, lancets and test strips.
  • For diabetic Medicare patients, obtaining free diabetic supplies could be as easy as picking up the phone and joining one of the medical warehouse companies as a private customer. Typically they offer sign-on bonuses to new customers and best of all they ship directly to your door. They will handle all the billing and paperwork to Medicare.



The high cost of diabetic supplies, you can find free suppliesCredit: digitalart, freedigitalphotos,comCredit: digitalart, freedigitalphotos,com