ROANOKE, Va. – Diabetics struggling to afford the rising cost of insulin are starting to see progress, after a drugmaker announced Monday it will start offering a half-price version.
The cost of insulin has tripled in recent years, forcing many diabetics to choose between the lifesaving medication and other everyday needs. That's prompted a firestorm of criticism, a Senate investigation and ultimately, this week's news about a cheaper, generic form of insulin.
"I have to live with the fact that I could die at any point in the day," 18-year-old Type 1 diabetic Jake Facciani said.
His mother, Cheryl, has similar fears, as she deals with a balancing act of her own.
"We still are paying an average of $2,500 a month for Type 1. That's a lot of money," Cheryl said.
It's not just Jake she's worried about. The incurable disease takes a unique toll on her family.
"When your first child is diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, you're like, ‘OK, this is going to be hard.’ And then your second child is diagnosed a week later and you're like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ And then to have three years later, a third child diagnosed… The costs, the pain, the burden just continues," Cheryl said.
Bella, 11, was the first to be diagnosed at age 6.
"’Dia’ in diabetes, it kind of sounds like dying, so I was kind of scared," Bella said.
Ben, 14, was diagnosed a week later, at age 9.
"I asked, ‘Is there anything I can do to bring back my pancreas?’ Snd my mom said, ‘No.’ And I was like hitting my pancreas trying to bring it back alive, I guess," Ben said.
Three years later, Jake was the last to be diagnosed, at age 16.
"The hardest thing for me was the guilt because I always wished it could've been me instead of them and then three years later, I ended up getting it myself," Jake said.
The Facciani's decided to rally together to make the best of a bad situation, but it's growing more complicated by the day with the skyrocketing cost of insulin.
"It is truly their oxygen because without oxygen, you would die. Without insulin, you will die," Cheryl said.
Some diabetics have died after rationing insulin just to make ends meet.
"They can't afford to keep their bodies healthy," Jake said.
"I worry about one day, could that be my son?" Cheryl said.
All that will help eliminate that fear is progress on pricing, which started this week, but the Facciani's want more.
"It’s almost like they put a Band-Aid on it," Cheryl said.
"It’s the foundation for something that needs to be bigger," Jake said.
The Faccani's said more Type 1 diabetes advocates need to speak out, more lawmakers need to step up and more drug companies need to spark change.