Mom fighting for lower insulin prices after son’s death

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(Photo Courtesy of Nicole Smith-Holt) (Photo Courtesy of Nicole Smith-Holt)

(Meredith) – A mother in Minnesota is fighting against the rising cost of insulin after her son died because he couldn’t afford the diabetes medication.

Alec Smith died 27 days after aging out of his parents’ health insurance last June. The 26-year-old discovered he couldn’t afford coverage of his own and began rationing his diabetes medication, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

An autopsy found he died of diabetic ketoacidosis, which occurs when there is not enough insulin in the body.

His mother, Nicole Smith-Holt, said her son was expecting a paycheck from his job as a restaurant manager, but a refill of his insulin would have cost $1,300.

“It’s not affordable. You are price gouging people who need this one product to live, to survive,” she told the newspaper.

On Saturday, Smith-Holt stood outside the Minnesota Capitol and rallied with other families calling attention to the soaring cost of diabetes drugs. She spoke about her son’s death and urged for stronger regulation of pharmaceutical companies.

“I should be with my son. I should not have had to bury him at such a young age. No parent should have to bury their children,” she said in an interview with KARE.

The American Diabetes Association says nearly 7 1/2 million Americans who use insulin to control diabetes saw the price triple from 2002 to 2013.

State Rep. Erin Murphy authored a bill in Smith's name authorizing the state to buy bulk insulin at a discount and make it available to diabetes patients with emergency needs. However, the bill won't get a vote this session.

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The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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