In the United States, 30.3 million people live with diabetes. One in four of those people — about 7.5 million people — is forced to ration insulin because of the high price of this life-saving drug. Proverbs 15:27 tells us: “He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house.”
No one should die because they have been priced out of purchasing a lifesaving medicine that costs no more than $6.16 to produce. It costs about as much to produce a vial of insulin as it does to get an ice cream cone, so we must ask: How does insulin end up costing people with diabetes $350 per vial?
While executives of drug corporations pay themselves $20 million annual salaries and celebrate record-breaking profits, they do so by hiking the price of insulin by up to 800 percent of its price from just a few years ago, because they know 30.3 million Americans with diabetes need it to survive.
While drug corporation executives shuttle cash to senators to buy their loyalty to Big Pharma over human life, people like Katelyn Wackerman of Charlotte, N.C., are going blind because they’re forced to ration the insulin they need to survive. While Eli Lilly rakes in $5 billion in earnings during just one quarter, people like Alec Smith, Jesimya David Scherer-Radcliff, Josh Wilkerson, Meaghan Carter, and Antavia Lee Worsham die as a result of greed.
In Matthew 25:34, Jesus says: “I was sick and you looked after me.” A deep evil is hard at work in the hearts of those who seek to worsen this moral crisis to line their own pockets. For us, being faith leaders means more than giving a sermon every week. It comes with the responsibility to speak in the interests of the poor, the sick, and the marginalized.
This World Diabetes Day, we join our voices as advocates with the Lower Drug Prices Now national coalition to uplift the true state of the insulin crisis and the havoc it has wrought on the people who live with diabetes and their families. Our faith teaches us the importance of dignity for human life, peace in our communities, and the pursuit of prosperity for all. However, when one of these pillars of a just society crumbles, we must raise our voices in protest and work together to rebuild it. We bear an urgent moral imperative to do so. Many Christians claim to be pro-life but ignore the cry of those who suffer.
Drug corporations who peddle life-saving medicine that costs $6 to produce for hundreds of dollars a vial gain troubles for their own houses. The elected officials in Congress who wield the power to lower the price of insulin for millions of Americans have demonstrated to the nation their greed for special interest money over human life. The elected members of Congress must wield their unique power to rectify the insulin crisis. Congress alone can grant Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices with the corporations that produce them to ensure fair, equitable prices for the American public.
Cowardice, greed, and corruption have overcome the partisan politics of Congress. We call them back into the consciousness of this crisis. This is a requisite step forward in rebuilding the moral pillar of prosperity and abundance for all. Do not ignore the pain you perpetuate. Do not ignore your moral imperative to right this trouble in your own house.
Justice and dignity for the sick will not knock on our doors. We must invite it inside. The price of being alive and well will not suddenly plummet of its own accord for people with diabetes. Justice of this scale — of this urgency — demands intent to rebuild instead of patch up, commitment to our values, and honor for human life.
To the wealthy executives and powerful elected officials with the blood of the innocent on your hands: You bear the moral imperative to right this wrong. Thirty million people cannot afford to wait any longer for affordable insulin. This World Diabetes Day, we elevate the voices of the insulin justice advocates who have brought justice to your door — now, you must invite justice inside.