Groom-to-Be Dies From Taking Cheaper Insulin to Save Money for Wedding

Photo: Carlos Osorio (AP)

Here is yet another true American story: Josh Wilkerson was diabetic. To live, he needed insulin, which reportedly cost him about $1,200 a month. For most of his life this was fine, as Wilkerson was covered by his stepfather’s insurance. But then he turned 26, and was no longer covered by that insurance. Wilkerson made $16.50 an hour supervising a dog kennel, and he was about to get married, so he switched to a different kind of insulin that only cost about $25 per vial to help save money for the wedding. Then he died.

As the New York Post reported on Tuesday:

“It didn’t work for his body,” his mom, Erin Wilson-Weaver, tells The Post. Her son died June 14, and she’s still in mourning — but determined to advocate in his memory.

Known as “human insulin,” ReliOn requires more time to become effective than the “analogue” insulin that Wilkerson had previously been taking — but, at one-tenth of the price, it was more affordable for the northern Virginia dog kennel supervisor, who was earning $16.50 an hour.

“When it comes to type 1 diabetes, people are facing unthinkable decisions — between the costs of living and their very lives,” Wilson-Weaver writes in a post for a diabetes advocacy blog full of similar posts about those lost to Type 1 diabetes after being unable to afford insulin.

“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,” Wilkerson’s fiancée, Rose Walters, 27, tells the Washington Post. Walters, also a Type 1 diabetic, began using the cheaper insulin as well last winter.

The pair also had to switch to an over-the-counter brand for their blood glucose meters to keep medical prices within their budget.

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You can read the rest of the story at the Post. It is both completely predictable and utterly devastating. We are the most prosperous country in the world, and there is absolutely no reason people should be dying this way and no reason they should have to ration the drug they need to survive, which has doubled in cost over the last five years. Every Josh Wilkerson we lose is a national disgrace, and every drop of his sugar-laced blood is on the hands of the politicians and pharma companies responsible for keeping this system in place.

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Jack Crosbie

Contributing Writer, Splinter