"Pay or Die" documentary about the high price of insulin
As part of our Make Meds Affordable campaign, we are excited about the documentary "Pay or Die." It is a heartfelt telling of Americans with type 1 diabetes and their struggles to secure their life-saving insulin medication.
Director/producer, Scott Ruderman, states: I was a carefree, 19-year-old college freshman when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and my life was forever changed. Since that day, I have walked a life-or-death tightrope each and every day. Living with type 1 diabetes means having to micromanage the insulin I take, the food I eat, and the activities I do, in order to keep my blood sugar from going too high—risking blindness, amputation, and death—or too low, risking seizures and—again—death.
I thought that was hard enough. But then I turned 26, and aged out of my parents’ health insurance plan. That’s when I came face-to-face with the crushing financial reality of living with type 1 diabetes in America.
Most of my adult life has been defined by one inescapable question: How can I make enough money as a filmmaker to afford the insulin I need to stay alive?” - Director Scott Ruderman
In 2018, my partner Rachael and I went to Vancouver, Canada to visit her family. Rachael encouraged me to see if I could get access to affordable insulin while we were there. We walked into a pharmacy, and the pharmacist showed me all the different types of insulin, ranging in price from $19 to $22 per vial. Right there and then, my eyes welled up with tears. Those exact same insulin vials—the same manufacturers, same chemical compositions—cost upwards of $300 per vial in the United States. How could that be?
I began to dig deeper. I reached out to other Americans living with type 1 diabetes and learned about the extreme measures they were taking simply to stay alive. I started to investigate the complex web of businesses and policies behind the soaring price of insulin in America. What I learned left me shocked. And dizzy. And profoundly certain that I had to tell this story.
PAY OR DIE is a deeply personal journey for me, and a story that will resonate with anyone interested in the inequities and devastating failures of our broken system.
Watch a preview of the film here.
Learn facts about insulin and drug companies.
Listen to an interview with the producers at "Diabetes Connections" on YouTube.
If you are able to support production of documentaries like this, or if you want to be on their advocacy mailing list, learn more here.