USA — Senator Bernie Sanders, Chair of the Senate Health Committee, has introduced a new bill alongside a companion bill in the House that aims to set the price of insulin at US$20 per vial.
While the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) had previously limited seniors’ out-of-pocket spending on insulin to US$35 per month, this new bill seeks to go one step further in making insulin more affordable.
The Democrats’ renewed push for lower insulin prices comes after the success of the IRA and Eli Lilly’s recent move to reduce the price of its most commonly used insulin by 70%, while also capping out-of-pocket costs for those on commercial insurance at US$35 per month.
In a joint statement, Sanders and Representative Cori Bush emphasized that restoring a US$20 price for all insulins would benefit everyone who uses insulin, including the uninsured who are most vulnerable to rationing.
They also pointed out that the price of insulin has risen dramatically over the years, with Sanofi’s Lantus now costing US$292 per vial, Novo Nordisk’s NovoLog priced at US$289 per vial, and Eli Lilly’s Lyumjev available for purchase at US$275 per vial.
Sanders and Bush argued that when Eli Lilly first priced its insulin Humalog, the cost was close to US$20 per vial, highlighting the need for more affordable pricing in the current market.
Senator Bernie Sanders has urged other insulin manufacturers to follow Eli Lilly’s lead in lowering the cost of insulin.
Earlier this month, Eli Lilly announced it was reducing the price of its most commonly used insulin by 70% and capping out-of-pocket costs for all commercial insurance customers at US$35 per month.
In response, Sanders sent letters to both Sanofi and Novo Nordisk, requesting that they also take steps to lower insulin prices.
Sanders’ letters emphasized the importance of affordable insulin for the millions of Americans who rely on it to manage diabetes.
He pointed out that the price of insulin has risen dramatically over the past two decades, making it increasingly difficult for people to afford the medication they need to stay healthy.
Sanders argued that companies like Sanofi and Novo Nordisk have a responsibility to ensure that their products are priced fairly and accessible for all patients.
It remains to be seen whether Sanofi and Novo Nordisk will respond to Sanders’ calls for action.
However, many patient advocacy groups and healthcare providers have praised Eli Lilly’s move to lower insulin costs, saying it will make a significant difference in the lives of people with diabetes.
Although Republicans blocked an earlier attempt to establish a nationwide US$35 out-of-pocket cap last August, both parties support lowering insulin prices.
In late January, Senator Josh Hawley introduced a bill that proposed a US$25 out-of-pocket cap for a monthly insulin supply among other provisions.
Furthermore, President Biden’s FY 2024 budget, which was recently released, includes a provision to add the US$35-per-month cap to the commercial market, which is projected to cost about US$1.4 billion over the next decade.