BUFFALO - "I kinda work all over the place," says 24-year-old Ryan Ankenbauer.
Tuesday night, he was running the sound board for the musical acts playing at the Waiting Room. And music is Ankenbauer's life. He's in a band.
"We're called Bungler. We're very energetic and loud."
Ankenbauer is also a Type-1 Diabetic which means, when the band travels to play a gig, he has to make sure he has all his insulin supplies.
Earlier this year while in Pittsburgh for a show, Ankenbauer's insulin pump was running low. He reached into his backback and pulled out his last 10 ml vial of Humalog, a fast-acting insulin made by Eli Lilly.
And Ankenbauer dropped it.
"They’re made out of glass and the don't usually break. But I picked it up and there was a crack in it.”
Unsure whether the vial was still good, Ankebauer decided to head to the nearest drug store and get a replacement. Then it came time to pay for it.
“She rang it up and $280. I was furious,“ says Ankenbauer.
He's not the only American facing prescription drug sticker-shock these days. The TEGNA investigative group identified 100 medications that rose in price at least 70% in the last four years.
The list includes eight diabetes medications which have doubled and more in price. Not only are these medicines costing consumers more, they're costing the federal government more. The Washington Post this week reported that prescription drugs drove Medicaid spending higher by almost $16-billion last year.
Now, getting back to Ankenbauer and his pricey Humalog. That drug is made by Eli Lilly. Earlier this year, the company seemed to tell the Indianapolis Star that its price had not gone up saying "our average net realized price for Humalog has not increased since 2009."
Julie Snyder, Vice President of Corporate Communication for BlueCross BlueShield of WNY, is not buying that explanation.
"Doesn't add up. Drug price costs make up 20-percent of the health insurance premiums that Western New Yorkers pay and that is a significant increase in the last five-years. That has more than doubled,” says Snyder.
She says it is time for regulators to step in.
If you're thinking the US Food and Drug Administration should do something, it can't. While it regulates what drugs are available in America, it cannot dictate price.
That leaves it up to Congress to fix. Representative Brian Higgins says the time to tackle this problem is now.
“It’s hurting senior citizens. It’s adding to the deficit in federal government and the drug companies need to be put on notice that they need to do something about this. If not, Congress will step in a do something about it,” says Higgins.
The Buffalo Democrat is calling on President-elect Donald Trump to make curbing prescription drug prices a priority and to do something about this in his first 100-days in office.
If you have something to say about this issue, below are the phone numbers for western New York's representatives in Congress.