Bipartisan senators introduced the Insulin Price Reduction Act in the United States Senate earlier this week.
If approved, the legislation would roll back over a decade of increasing insulin prices, many who say is years of price gouging by the pharmaceutical industry.
According to The American Diabetes Association (ADA), the average price of insulin nearly tripled between 2002 and 2013.
The legislation was introduced by Senators Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH; Susan Collins, R-ME; Tom Carper, D-DE; and Kevin Cramer, R-ND.
As part of the act, insurers, and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) would no longer be allowed rebate schemes with insulin manufacturers.
Also, price hikes would not be able to exceed medical inflation for that year.
According to a statement from Shaheen’s office, for the most popular insulins would result in more than a 75% decrease in prices compared to what we can expect to see in 2020.
The legislation seeks to address the skyrocketing cost of insulin by providing incentives for manufacturers to reduce the list price of all insulin products to their 2006 list price.
Importantly, these lower-priced products would not be subject to deductibles.
The ADA strongly supports the introduction of the Insulin Price Reduction Act in the United States Senate. The organization believes rolling back the list price for insulin products by over a decade will make insulin more accessible for many Americans, both insured and uninsured.
“Insulin is a matter of life and death,” says Dr. LaShawn McIver, senior vice president of government affairs and advocacy for the ADA. “For the many Americans who cannot afford their insulin, the consequences can be dire, including dangerous complications and even death.”
LaShawn says the ADA applauds Senators Shaheen, Collins, Carper and Cramer for their leadership to address this urgent issue.
“We implore all members of Congress to act swiftly to bring down the cost of this life-saving medication by supporting the Insulin Price Reduction Act,” she added.
Those at the state level are encouraged to see the U.S. Congress introduce legislation regarding out-of-control insulin costs.
“While they have been doing a lot of talking and investigation about the issue over the years, there has never actually been any action, which was being left to the states,” Rep. Dylan Roberts tells dLife. “To see this bipartisan group of senators actually put pen to paper and introduce a bill is very promising.”
Colorado became the first state in the nation to pass legislation combating the increasing price of insulin when Roberts’ bill was passed this past May.
The bill caps insulin co-pays at $100/month and also authorized an investigation by Colorado’s Attorney General, which will be delivered to the legislature next year.
“I think the policy proposed in the Insulin Price Reduction Actis a great start,” Roberts says. “Anything to lower the list price of insulin is a worthy cause because it is that list price that controls the overall affordability of insulin as it works through the supply chain to the American who needs insulin to survive.”
Still, Roberts says he wishes the legislation had more teeth and placed more burden on pharmaceuticals to price the drug much closer to the cost of produce and distribute (which is still much lower than 2006 levels, as the bill proscribes).
“I definitely applaud the part of the bill that removes insulin payments from deductibles,” he says, “So, overall, if this bill becomes law, it would help a lot of Americans and save them a lot of money.”
However, Roberts says we still need long-term solutions and much more accountability on Big Pharma and the PBMs that are driving the price of insulin to unaffordable levels for uninsured and under-insured Americans.
Roberts says since Congress still seems to be unwilling to actually investigate the underlying problem of insulin prices, that responsibility will continue to fall to the states.
“My bill that got passed in Colorado capped insulin co-pays at $100/month but it also authorized an investigation by Colorado’s Attorney General and ordered a report by his office about what to do next to be delivered to the legislature next year,” Roberts says. “More states should take this action.”
Further, he says more states should continue to do everything they can on the state level to ease the burden of unpreventable diseases, like Type 1 diabetes, for their residents.
- American Diabetes Association. (2019, July 24). The American Diabetes Association® Applauds the Insulin Price Reduction Act, Introduced Today by the Senate Diabetes Caucus. PR Newswire. Retrieved from https://prnmedia.prnewswire.com/news-releases/the-american-diabetes-association-applauds-the-insulin-price-reduction-act-introduced-today-by-the-senate-diabetes-caucus-300888960.html