SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) – Utahns have taken to the steps of the State Capitol, hoping to send a message about saving lives. It’s all about the importance of making Insulin accessible to those living with diabetes across our state.
Saturday’s rally was organized by the Utah #insulin4all Chapter, with support from T1 International, to draw attention to the fact that insulin, a drug that is absolutely essential for people with diabetes to stay alive, continues to have unnecessary barriers for access despite the fact that Utah has a statute in place that can reduce these barriers.
On January 1st, 2022, H.B. 178 — Pharmacy Practice Modifications — a bill sponsored by Representative Norman Thurston during the 2021 Utah Legislative Session, went into effect. This bill expands upon the list of drugs, including insulin, that a pharmacist in the state of Utah can prescribe.
The effects of diabetics not having adequate access to Insulin is hitting home for Chapter member Tiffany Warren. Her brother Casey Domgaard died due to insulin rationing back in January of 2020.
“My brother went without it for two weeks of his life and it cost him his life” says Warren.
Casey was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 15 years old. Tiffany Warren says in 2015, he lost his eyesight due to complications with diabetes and eventually lost his job. She says he struggled for years to get help.
“He wasn’t able to get disability even though he was legally blind. They went off the diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes and it’s very hard to get on disability with Type 1 diabetes,” Warren says.
Towards the end of his life, he had to choose between having enough money for rent or getting the medication he needed. She says the grief of losing her brother was painful and even affected her job, “My brother wasn’t just a brother. He was one of my dearest friends, and to keep going on and try to find the good in the grief has been really hard,” Warren explains.
In January of 2022, the Pharmacy Practice Modification bill went into effect, permitting pharmacists to prescribe certain non-controlled prescription medications. The Utah Chapter says they advocated highly for this bill under the impression insulin would be added to a list of drugs a pharmacist can prescribe, but it has to be added.
Phillip Cowley, owner of Cache Valley Pharmacy, supports pharmacist-prescribed insulin in Utah, says, “What we’re asking for is for those patients to have an opportunity to come to their pharmacists and be able to get that insulin easier by allowing pharmacists to prescribe after a primary diagnosis has been given.”
Cowley describes diabetes as a very brittle type of disease, so a patient needs to be able to take care of it at its current state. “You can’t wait three days to get life-saving insulin,” says Cowley.
As for Tiffany Warren, while her brother Casey may no longer be here, she says she will continue to advocate for him and others dealing with diabetes. “I’ll never stop being his voice. He would’ve wanted changes to be made.”
Phillip Cowley adds, “Legislation has already deemed insulin as being safe to buy over-the-counter. The only thing we’re asking, at this point, is to expand that to all types of insulin so each patient, who is their best advocate, who knows their disease the very best, can feel safe and be healthy and save millions for taxpayers as well individuals.”
Stephanie Arceneaux is the T1 International Chapter leader in Utah. She tells ABC4 News that Saturday’s rally applies some pressure to the Utah Board of Pharmacy to consider adding insulin to the list of medication pharmacists in our state can prescribe. This will take into to account stories like Tiffany’s so more families don’t have experience a loss that could be prevented.