Josh Wilkerson was alone, in sleeping quarters above the Northern Virginia dog kennel where he worked, when he suffered a series of strokes that would prove fatal.
He had aged out of his stepfather’s health insurance plan on his 26th birthday and eventually switched to over-the-counter insulin. Like many other diabetics his age, he could not afford the prescription brand he needed.
A few hours after taking another dose of the lower-grade medication that June day in Leesburg, Wilkerson was in the throes of a diabetic coma — his blood sugar level 17 times higher than what is considered normal.
His death at age 27 illustrates the worst-case scenario for thousands of lower-income people living with diabetes in the United States who depend on over-the-counter insulin that — for $25 a vial at Walmart — sells for one-tenth of what the more effective version costs.
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