RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas – Diabetes is a disease that affects more than 30 million Americans and nearly one in three people from the RGV, a rate 20 percent higher than the rest of Texas according to Centers for Disease Control.
Treating type 2 diabetes, the form most common in the Valley, requires careful management of one’s diet, exercise, and the medication insulin, which regulates blood sugar.
But due to its rising cost, some Valley residents are turning to Mexico to buy their medication.
“We are on insulin and on our insurance it’s very expensive so we came here to pick it up much cheaper.”
Linda Herwig is a winter Texan from Wisconsin. She visits Nuevo Progreso to pick up medication for a friend who has diabetes and says the price is less than half of what he would pay in the United States.
“Novarapid, which is usually $210 and we picked it up for $43 today.”
According to the American Diabetes Association, the average price of insulin has increased by 64% since 2014, despite no changes to the drug itself.
For Harlingen resident Guadalupe Sanchez-Perez who has type 2 diabetes, since becoming a single-income household, he’s been unable to afford his medication, despite having insurance. So every two weeks, he and his wife go to Mexico to buy refills.
“Two weeks treatment I pay $85 for it. And at home, with my insurance and all, I still have to pay one hundred and something dollars.”
The high price of insulin has led some diabetics to ration their medication, which can cause diabetic ketoacidosis, a certain death.
Herwig says she is glad to have been able to find affordable medication.
“We’re just thankful that we can get it down here cheaper and some of our other medicines we’re able to get cheaper, so thank you Mexico for that. I wish we had it in the states.”
Herwig adds before heading back to Wisconsin, she is planning on stocking up on the medications she needs.