Eli Lilly and others in the pharmaceutical industry are on the front lines of research and innovation, according to Nathaniel Miles, the vice president for strategic initiatives at Eli Lilly.
Miles led a spirited discussion at the National Newspaper Publishers Association's (NNPA) Midwinter Training Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
He said historically expensive medications for diabetes and other diseases are becoming more affordable because of extensive research and innovation that's taking place in the industry.
"We constantly have to innovate, and we cannot rest on last year's medical advances," stated Miles, who presented the topic, "Lilly Diabetes Solution Center and the NNPA: Vital Roles in Partnership that Serve African American Communities Around the Nation."
"With Magic Johnson, people thought when he made the announcement that he had HIV that he would die. It's 30 years later, and he's still here because people kept investing, and now you can see the difference," Miles stated.
A lot of good things are happening in the area of diabetes, a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high.
According to medical experts, African American adults are 60 percent more likely than non-Hispanic White adults to have been diagnosed with diabetes by a physician. In 2016, non-Hispanic Blacks were 3.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with end-stage renal disease as compared to non-Hispanic Whites.
Patients require a regular dose of insulin to remain healthy.
Insulin had always been expensive for most and required refrigeration. "If you left your insulin out of the refrigeration, it was no longer any good," Miles stated. With innovation, Miles said things have changed.
"We have insulin that now can last for up to four weeks without refrigeration," he stated.
"For instance, in Puerto Rico, even though the power was not on after the hurricane, no one had their insulin go bad."
Miles told the audience at the conference that Eli Lilly's Diabetes Solution Center has helped to pave the way for innovative progress.
The center counts as a new patient-focused helpline with representatives who will identify personalized solutions to address insulin affordability. Miles stated that this suite of solutions would provide many options – some being offered for the first time – that can significantly lower and cap high monthly out-of-pocket costs for some people who use Lilly insulins such as Humalog and Humulin. Dedicated representatives will review the personal circumstances and identify options for people who pay near the full list price, such as the uninsured and people in the deductible phase of their high-deductible insurance plans, as well as potential solutions for people with lower incomes.
"We don't want anyone to have to pay full list price for their insulin, and many people who do will be able to pay significantly less by calling our helpline," Miles stated. "Our goal is to ensure that people paying high out-of-pocket costs for Lilly insulins are matched with the best solution available to reduce their financial burden and help ensure they receive the treatment they need."