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Arkansans could soon see a cap in insulin prices

The cost of insulin is at the top of many Arkansan's minds, and for those who need it, there could be hope following President Biden's State of the Union Address.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Tuesday night's State of the Union Address by President Joe Biden covered several topics-- from the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, to infrastructure in the United States. 

One specific topic is starting conversations though: insulin prices.

"Let's cap the cost of insulin at $35 a month, so everyone can afford it," President Biden said. 

For those who directly work with people needing insulin, they said it's a move that's long overdue.

"The patient can certainly go broke almost, trying to pay for something that is necessary and going to save their life," Anne Pace, Head Pharmacist at Kavanaugh Pharmacy, said.

As a person who sells it, Pace knows first-hand how expensive insulin can get.

"That's what we're here for is to help keep people healthy and when the cost is an issue, it's extremely frustrating," Pace said. 

For example, Pace brought out four insulin vials she sells. If you weren't aware of the cost, you might think they were relatively cheap – maybe $15.

All four of the vials that she showed sell for $100 at the cheapest, with the most expensive being close to $300 with no insurance.

"That can be very problematic for people, everyone. Whether you are well off or not. That's a problem," Pace said.

She isn't the only one who knows this either. Dr. Joseph Henske runs UAMS' diabetes program, and knows the struggles the high price can bring.

"If it's not affordable, it doesn't matter what the best medication is because you can't give it to them," he said. "You have to give them something they can afford."

And Dr. Henske doesn't know this just from his patients – he's got firsthand experience as a person who relies on insulin as well.

"Even for me personally, I've had diabetes since I was a kid," he said.

It's hard to figure out when or if this cap on insulin cost could actually happen. 

While President Biden is pushing for it, it still needs to be brought up by a member of Congress.

After that, it's unclear.

But even with the uncertainty,  Dr. Henske is feeling optimistic and hopes that this happens soon.

"I think with a lot of discoveries in medicine, I think the physicians and people involved can see the future and it will happen," he said. "But, no one can predict how quickly."

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