Many Americans Resort to Crowdfunding to Help Pay for Expensive Medications | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Lonnie Cucinitti gets choked up when he thinks about all the people in his life who chipped in when he needed money for his four prescriptions.


The 76-year-old Texan launched a GoFundMe page in January with the hopes of collecting enough money to cover his 90-day prescriptions. He shared the fundraiser on his Facebook page, and he started receiving small donations, a few from people he didn't know.


Cucinitti is one of many people who have turned to crowdfunding to cover routine medical expenses. While crowdfunding is mainly used for emergency medical costs, many still turn to sites like GoFundMe for costly prescriptions, including insulin, a life-saving diabetes medication that's seen its list prices increase an average of 300% over the last decade.


A search for "prescription" on GoFundMe bought up roughly 13,600 results of past and current funding pages. For insulin — both for insulin pumps and the medication itself — there were almost 6,000 results. GoFundMe did not respond to requests for comment on the topic.


A March article in the Journal of American Medical Association took a look at crowdfunding for medical expenses. The authors noted that there's little regulation about how funding from crowdfunding sites is reported, so there's not much data about how frequently people use it to pay for medical expenses. The authors called research based on this data "long overdue."


"The rise of medical crowdfunding carries the promise of more efficiently matching potential donors with unmet needs in ways that may increase overall giving, mirroring emerging technologies in other industries such as ride-hailing and retail services that aim to more efficiently match supply and demand," the authors wrote.


At the same time, there are ethical and legal questions that may come up, especially if people are raising money for experimental treatments. The article also brought up concerns about how doctors should interact with the sites if their patients are using them.