"How many more young type 1 diabetes patients have to die before something finally changes?" asks the deceased's fiancée, Rose Walters.
Josh Wilkerson switched to cheaper insulin after aging out of his stepfather’s private health insurance on his 26th birthday. Initially, he had been taking a $1,200-a-month insulin that was well beyond his budget with his $16.50 an hour-earning job, reports the New York Post. Wilkerson began portioning out this pricey medication until he consulted a doctor who recommended him to take ReliOn, a brand sold at Walmart for $25 a vial. However, on June 14, the young boy suffered several strokes as he lay alone in the sleeping quarters situated above a northern Virginia dog kennel.
Shortly after taking another dosage of the low-grade medication brand Wilkerson entered a state of diabetic coma in Leesburg, and his blood sugar was 17 times higher than the normal level. Passing away at the age of 27, Josh represents the sad fate of thousands of lower-income people suffering from diabetes in the United States. Almost all of them depend on the over-the-counter insulin which is sold for one-tenth of the price of the more effective variant, reports the Independent. Expressing her grief, Wilkerson's fiancee, 27-year-old Rose Walters said, "It’s very hard."
Only thing this tells me is that the government needs to investigate this "cheaper insulin". Many people buy generic drugs because the name brand is too expensive. The generic drugs are supposed to work the same. It doesn't make them bad, stupid, or negligent people. Just poor.— ManifestMe (@MyAviMakesMeLOL) August 7, 2019
Walters, who like her deceased partner was born with type 1 diabetes, added, "How many more young type 1 diabetes patients have to die before something finally changes?" During an interview with The Washington Post, Wilkerson's mourning mother, Erin Wilson-Weaver said, "It didn’t work for his body." She plans on advocating this cause to honor her late son's memory. So, why didn't ReliOn work for the young man? Unlike the regular pricey insulins, which regulate the amount of glucose entering blood by emulating the hormone secreted by the pancreas, ReliOn needs more time to become fully effective.
As someone who works in clinic with diabetic patients everyday, your option is this or they won’t get any at all. We suggest it all the time because there literally is no other choice hun— sugah pie henny bun (@NotThatKindaphD) August 7, 2019
Explaining the same, Wilson-Weaver shared the story of losing her son on a diabetes advocacy blog that contains similar posts of people losing their loved ones to Type 1 diabetes as they too could not afford the expensive insulin. She wrote: When it comes to type 1 diabetes, people are facing unthinkable decisions — between the costs of living and their very lives. Speaking about Wilkerson's change in medication last winter his Walters said, "We figured: Hey, it’s $25. We can do that, and we’ll just work with it and try to do the best we can."
His part of that inhuman system that price same insulin 10x the price in Canada to pay themselves billions in profit. I hope Sanders get elected and send all these POS to unemployment line.— DanyV (@JDanielVilliers) August 7, 2019
The couple also had to switch their blood glucose meters to an over-the-counter brand in order to remain to be within their budget. Sharing their plans for their sweet wedding, Walters revealed how the couple had planned a rustic barn house wedding in October and afford it, they had been cutting down on their expenses which included switching to a less effective medication brand. The deceased mother was always concerned about her son's health as she herself had lost her father to Type 1 diabetes when he was just 38.
This is so upsetting... now living in Japan, this extortion by the US healthcare system is disturbingly magnified and horrifying.— Reina Scully (@ReinaScully) August 7, 2019
I paid (approx) $8 for a full chest x ray here, meanwhile my bill for a mandatory chest x ray in the US when I had pneumonia was $1300
However, this was definitely not the first time when complications in insurance held back a boy from getting the required medical attention. Wilkerson's trouble began right after he graduated from high school when he lost his childhood insurance coverage. He couldn’t afford the maintenance or supplies for his insulin pump, so he had to make the switch back to syringes," wrote Wilson-Weaver in a blog post. Right after switching up his medications, Josh’s health and life really began its downward spiral.
27-year-old diabetic man dies after switching to a cheaper insulin : Josh Wilkerson was kicked off his family insurance automatically when he turned 26 and could no longer afford the insulin he used for diabetes type 1 diabetes. After starting a cheaper… https://t.co/cApSrDiDNV pic.twitter.com/3gUkwjDeRj— RushReads (@RushReads) August 5, 2019
The worried mother warned his son about him rationing his insulin by sending him an article about a man who died due to the same. Reassuring his mother, her son said, "Don’t worry, mom." However, she did have a reason to worry as Walters was fine, Wilkerson began experiencing mood swings, stomach problems, and high blood sugar in response to the ReliOn whereas Walters didn't show any of those signs. On the second night of Wilkerson spending the night at the kennel, he experienced a series of strokes and when he did not respond to his partner's call she rushed to the kennel only to find his lying on the floor unconscious.
We are extremely saddened to learn about the tragic death of a 27-year-old Josh Wilkerson.— Diabetes.co.uk (@Diabetescouk) August 7, 2019
This emphasises the devastating outcomes of high #insulin prices in the US. #Insulin4all #GBDoc #DOC #T1D
Read more ➡️ https://t.co/BSNRoeT3me pic.twitter.com/2QNoNajyIV
"I just remember smacking him on the face, saying, ‘Babe, wake up. You have to wake up," recalled Walters. Five days later, Josh passed away. "The saddest thing was, when he was diagnosed, and until he was 18, his insurance provided him the best and newest care available," said Wilson-Weaver noting that her son's death was "absolutely" preventable.