Legislators, advocates look to combat sharp increase in price of insulin

Diabetes advocates and legislators on both sides of the aisle are calling for more transparency and government oversight in the insulin market because of skyrocketing costs.

The American Diabetes Association reported that the average price of insulin has nearly tripled between 2002 and 2013, while three companies—Eli Lilly, Sanofi and Novo Nordisk—control 99 percent of the world’s insulin, according to reporting from The Hill. There are no generic forms of insulin, but more cost-effective biosimilar versions are available.

“Americans need Congress to take action to ensure a vibrant, competitive insulin market that serves consumers instead of drug company CEOs. Insulin is not a luxury. It is required for life,” said Ben Wakana, executive director of the advocacy group Patients for Affordable Drugs.

Finding a solution to the problem will not be easy. Legislators will have to weave through a complicated system which encompasses drug companies, insurers and pharmacy benefit managers.

“While the prescription drug market, and the insulin market specifically, is opaque to virtually everyone involved, one fact is clear: the patients are not getting the best deal,” said Senate Aging Committee Chair Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, during a May hearing on insulin prices.

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