House of Representatives vote to cap insulin prices at $35
Insulin is the poster child for high drug prices in the US. I’ve written before about diabetics crossing the border into Canada to pick up affordable insulin, even though the original patent sold for $1 when the marvel was first discovered. Several stories about diabetics dying after rationing their insulin have garnered a lot of media attention and sparked debate.
On November 19th, the House of Representatives approved a bill that would cap insulin prices at $35 per month for Americans with diabetes. It’s about time. People with diabetes who depend on life-saving medication need to see politicians take action. The bill, known as the Build Back Better Act, now goes to the US Senate for approval.
Under the bill that would take effect in 2023, Medicare part D plans and private group or health care plans can no longer apply a deductible or charge more than $35 for a month’s supply of the insulin products covered. From 2025, all insulin products will fall under the cap through a drug negotiation provision that the bill includes.
Insulin prices have been rising steeply for the past decades. In the period between 2012 and 2016, they almost doubled, and a 40-day supply of insulin increased from $344 to $666 in the US. For some diabetics, the cheap insulin available at Walmart has offered a solution. In July, the retailer launched a new fast-acting formula with ReliOn NovoLog in a partnership with insulin producer Novo Nordisk. The problem with using Walmart insulin is that a proper long-acting insulin that diabetics depend on to keep stable blood sugar between meals, like Tresiba or Lantus, is still missing from the shelves. Hopefully, the new bill will solve the problem once and for all by providing affordable insulin for everyone.