Morgantown, WV - It was New Year’s Eve, 2013 in Sheffield, Ohio. Kevin Houdeshell, age 36, stopped at his pharmacy on his way home from work to refill his insulin prescription. The pharmacist said the prescription was expired and Kevin would need to call his doctor. He called over and over for 3 days. On Jan. 8, 2014, Kevin was found on the kitchen floor with the patio door cracked open, and the snow blowing over him. The Coroner ruled he died from Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA). Kevin lived alone and died alone.
This information is taken from a letter written by Kevin’s dad, Dan, and sent to the Oregon Senate in February, 2019, asking them to pass legislation that would allow pharmacists to dispense life-saving drugs. Dan Houdeshell was not aware that the West Virginia Legislature was considering a similar bill at the same time. HB 2524 passed the West Virginia House in January and was approved by the Governor on March 9, 2109. It goes into effect on Thursday, June 6, 2019.
A press conference is scheduled for Wed. June 5th at the Monongalia County Health Department at noon.
“We did not know about Kevin Houdeshell’s death,” said Delegate Barbara Evans Fleischauer, one of the bill’s sponsors, “or that Kevin’s family had successfully advocated for laws that passed in other states. We just thought it was good public policy to allow pharmacists to fill maintenance drugs for 90 days and fill life-sustaining medicines when prescriptions have expired for up to 72 hours. I suspect that there have been several “Kevins” in West Virginia.”
“After the session ended,” Fleischauer continued,“ Adrian Kiger Olmstead, a local resident, thanked me for sponsoring the legislation, and informed me that she has had Type I diabetes since age 11. Adrian was recently appointed Chapter Leader of an international group, #Insulin4all. We agreed there is a need to educate professionals and the public about HB 2524.” “Passage of this legislation is great,” said Olmstead, “but what we really need to do is to work on ensuring West Virginians can afford their insulin. Fifteen years ago, a vial of Humulin cost $175. Now a tiny vial costs nearly $1500.”
The press conference to publicize the effective date of House Bill 2524, will take place on Wednesday, June 5th, 12:00 pm at the Training Room of Monongalia County Health Department, 453 Van Voorhis Rd.. The training room is on the Lower Level of the Health Dept., which can be accessed by turning left on Elmer Prince Dr. between the United Bank and the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) office. Joining Fleischauer and Olmstead will be WVU Professors of Medicine Laura Davisson and Lisa Costello.
“This bill will be very important in emergency situations,” said Dr. Davisson. “However, West Virginia leads the nation in diabetes; it is estimated that over 240,000 West Virginians have been diagnosed with diabetes and 65,000 are undiagnosed. I constantly worry that patients will go blind or need an amputation because they cannot afford this life-saving drug.”
"Figuring out how to pay for insulin can be traumatic for parents of children with diabetes when they are already managing a new diet and adjusting the dosage” added Dr. Costello. “For a drug that is over 100 years old, this is both sad and unacceptable.”