Minnesota GOP lawmaker's video touts $25 insulin at Walmart

Rep. Jeremy Munson, of Lake Crystal, on Friday posted a Facebook video showing him walking into a Walmart and buying a vial of the cheaper, older form of insulin for $24.88.

Posted: Sep 24, 2019 11:33 AM
Updated: Sep 24, 2019 11:50 AM

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A conservative Republican lawmaker has come under criticism for promoting a cheaper form of insulin, while legislators debate whether and how Minnesota should help diabetics with the high cost of newer insulin products.

Rep. Jeremy Munson, of Lake Crystal, on Friday posted a Facebook video showing him walking into a Walmart and buying a vial of the cheaper, older form of insulin for $24.88.

"I hear testimony about people rationing their insulin," Munson says in the video that has been viewed thousands of times. "That shouldn't need to happen when there's affordable options out there."

Democrats and diabetes advocates quickly criticized his advice as dangerous, the Star Tribune reported. They warned that the two types of insulin can't be used the same way and said Munson — a businessman who is not a diabetic — shouldn't be dispensing medical advice online.

The debate over the video comes as Republicans and Democrats hold hearings this week on competing proposals for providing insulin to diabetics who can't afford it. A state Senate committee held its first hearing Monday on a GOP proposal to make drug companies provide free insulin to people whose incomes are low enough, about $50,000 for a single person and $100,000 for a family of four. An updated Democratic proposal for providing emergency insulin supplies will debut Thursday before a House panel.

The cheaper "regular" insulin sold at Walmart became widely available in the early 1980s. Newer "analog" insulin products emerged in 1996 and grew in popularity, but their price has skyrocketed. It can cost $300 for a two-week supply. Analog insulin kicks in faster than the old version and acts more predictably, helping people avoid potentially dangerous peaks that lead to low blood sugar, said Matt Petersen, a vice president at the American Diabetes Association.

Switching to the cheaper option requires diabetics to be more regimented about their diets and requires careful assistance from a health care provider.

"If you're not a medical professional, you probably should not be dispensing medical advice online," said Allison Bailey, the U.S. advocacy manager for Type 1 diabetes organization T1International.

Rep. Laurie Halverson, a Democrat from Eagan, who has Type 1 diabetes and uses analog insulin, is among Munson's critics.

"To approach it like somehow somebody without diabetes has the answer and it's lower-quality, outdated technology with this insulin — it's just wrong," Halverson said.

Munson said in his defense that he's not giving medical advice, and that he wrote at the end of a caption below his video: "Diabetics should talk to their pharmacist and doctor to understand if the traditional insulin could be used to treat their diabetes if the newer style of insulin is not available."

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Hennepin8738633
Ramsey3189134
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Mower3662
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Todd3300
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Renville50
Traverse40
Grant40
Red Lake40
Clearwater30
Hubbard30
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Roseau30
Houston20
Stevens10
Lake10
Kittson10

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Confirmed Cases: 20264

Reported Deaths: 574
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk4406134
Woodbury281737
Black Hawk175946
Linn96779
Dallas92924
Buena Vista9181
Marshall90118
Johnson6169
Wapello60714
Muscatine56341
Crawford5422
Tama40828
Scott36810
Dubuque35121
Louisa34611
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Sioux2900
Jasper26317
Wright1940
Washington1928
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Story1181
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Henry722
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