Desperate Measures: The Skyrocketing Price Of Insulin In America "We've spent $700 a month just for our daughter's insulin — and beyond that we've had to pay for other supplies including a pump, testing strips," Lija Greenseid told us about her daughter who has Type 1 Diabetes.

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Desperate Measures: The Skyrocketing Price Of Insulin In America

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Desperate Measures: The Skyrocketing Price Of Insulin In America

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Desperate Measures: The Skyrocketing Price Of Insulin In America

Desperate Measures: The Skyrocketing Price Of Insulin In America

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/733742630/734130530" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

A woman hands an insulin pen to Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) during a town hall meeting on February 23, 2017 in Thibodaux, Louisiana. The woman who says the pen costs $500 is worried if it will still be covered by Cassidy's new healthcare legislation. JONATHAN BACHMAN/GETTY IMAGES hide caption

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JONATHAN BACHMAN/GETTY IMAGES

A woman hands an insulin pen to Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) during a town hall meeting on February 23, 2017 in Thibodaux, Louisiana. The woman who says the pen costs $500 is worried if it will still be covered by Cassidy's new healthcare legislation.

JONATHAN BACHMAN/GETTY IMAGES

Here's the story of a groundbreaking medical discovery. Back in 1923, three Canadian inventors discovered insulin — the life-saving hormone produced in the pancreas that keeps your blood sugar from rising too high or dropping too low.

One of the inventors — Frederick Banting — refused to put his name on a patent for insulin, saying it was unethical for a doctor to profit from a discovery that would save lives.

His colleagues wound up selling the patent to the University of Toronto for just one dollar.

Fast-forward to 2019.

The price of insulin has skyrocketed in recent decades — from roughly $20 for a 10-millimeter vial of the drug in 1996, to as much as $290 a vial today.

Some diabetes patients need to take multiple vials a day to stay alive.

The out-of-control costs have forced some families to ration the drug, buy it on the black market and even travel to Canada, where insulin can be bought for a fraction of the cost.

More than 30 million Americans have diabetes. More than 7 million of them rely on insulin to stay alive. How could treatment for such a common disease be so expensive?

We explored this question and the proposed legislation that would cap insulin prices in the U.S.