'This isn't something that's out of our control:' Local nursing student advocates for affordable insulin

Danika Johnson was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was in middle school, and has turned her experiences into advocacy.

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According to the CDC, over 37 million Americans have diabetes.
Mike McGurran

Danika Johnson discovered she had type 1 diabetes when she was just a middle schooler. It was a big shock for both her and her entire family.

"It's a very, very steep learning curve at first," recalled Danelle Johnson, Danika's mother. "And because you don't know what the disease entails, or how she's going to react, the doctors can't really tell you, this is what's going to happen."

Both Danika and her mother Danelle learned as much as they could about the disease, and have since become advocates for awareness. According to the CDC, nearly one in 10 Americans have diabetes, and around one in five people with diabetes don't know they have it.

"If you're a type one diabetic, you're completely insulin dependent," explained Danika. "And there's no cure as of this time, which is another thing we're advocating for. It's a confusing disease."

In addition to educating people about symptoms of diabetes, they also advocate for lower insulin costs. Danelle tells me costs are out of control, and can break the budget of an entire family.


"As a family unit, we have to plan for the maximum out of pocket costs every single year," said Danelle. "We usually hit it by mid year, and her insulin for 90 days is $3,946. That's just the insulin."

Both have spoken to local, state, and federal officials to advocate for affordable insulin, and to support funding for research for a cure to type one diabetes.

Currently, they're advocating ND lawmakers to pass senate bill 2140, which would cap the price of a 30 day supply of insulin at 25 dollars.

"This isn't something that's out of our control," Danika said. "It's something that we definitely can make a change as people in our community, people in North Dakota."

With 64,000 Americans diagnosed every year, both agree it's time to take action.

"I'm determined to make a difference and let people know how much this disease affects everyone, not just the person they might think has this disease," said Danelle.

Over the last three years, nearly two dozen states have established insulin price caps.

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