Washington, D.C. – On Thursday, March 31st, the US House of Representatives voted to pass a $35 insulin copay cap. The bill now heads to the Senate. While a $35 copay cap on insulin would impact many people, T1International is calling on the Senate to pass a true price cap on insulin for everyone, especially those without insurance.
We believe in a world where everyone with diabetes, no matter where they live, has everything they need to survive and achieve their dreams. The House bill does not lower the overall price of insulin or hold the insulin manufacturers accountable. It merely shifts more of the cost onto insurers.
“We are hopeful that as this legislation goes to the Senate, it can incorporate amendments we have been advocating for that would cap the price of insulin regardless of insurance status,” said patient and T1International Executive Director Elizabeth Pfiester. “Doing so will finally hold the pharmaceutical industry accountable, beginning to combat the greed that has poisoned the manufacture of insulin. Most importantly, a true price cap would cover patients without insurance which will impact the most vulnerable.”
It has been 100 years since insulin was available for people with diabetes to use. Yet today, three companies — Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi — dominate more than 90% of the insulin market. While production of insulin costs around $6 to manufacture, these three companies can charge whatever the market will bear, leading to skyrocketing prices which leave many people who are dependent on insulin bankrupt and sick.
One in four people who are insulin-dependent have reported the dangerous practice of rationing their insulin due to price. As the average out of pocket costs of insulin for patients has skyrocketed, so have devastating impacts in the form of illness and death. T1International Ambassador Nicole Smith Holt leads our Families United for Affordable Insulin group, made up of loved ones of patients who have died from insulin rationing. Many of those deaths have occurred when patients did not have health insurance and could not afford their insulin.
“This bill would not have saved Alec, or many others like him who died because the healthcare system failed them,” said Nicole Smith-Holt, T1International’s Ambassador who lost her son to insulin rationing. “We need legislation that truly caps the cost of insulin and makes insulin more affordable for those without insurance.”
Copay caps have been an important first step, which is why 19 states have passed them in recent years, as urged by T1International #insulin4all Chapters across the country. But insulin copay caps continue to put the burden on patients and don’t cumulatively cover all insulins a person is prescribed by their doctor.
It is long past time for a federal price cap on insulin to begin to hold Big Pharma accountable for their price gouging. We are hopeful that popular and bi-partisan amendments can be added as this bill moves through the Senate. Those amendments must lower the list price for everyone, regardless of insurance status.
T1International USA is a global type 1 diabetes advocacy organization run by people with type 1 diabetes for people with type 1 diabetes. We accept no funding from pharmaceutical companies and provide advocacy training and support to 40 Chapters across the USA. In 2014, T1International launched the #insulin4all campaign, which has grown to become a global movement.