Biden says cost of insulin must be lowered for people with diabetes

President Joe Biden in his State of the Union address urged that Congress take immediate action to address the prohibitive cost of insulin for people living with diabetes, but lawmakers have been slow to respond to the urgency of this problem.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) applauded his call said Congress should take swift action to finally pass legislation that will cap monthly out-of-pocket insulin costs at $35 for Americans with commercial insurance, group health plans, and Medicare.

The ADA led a campaign resulting in the enactment of state-level out-of-pocket limits for insulin in 20 states and the District of Columbia.

The government regulates pharmaceutical patents and FDA approvals for drugs and devices, but it does not currently play a role in regulating pricing, leaving patients at the mercy of our free-market economy, where the business model is: Your money of your life.

Americans spend more on prescription drugs than any other country—about $1,200 per person—and total medication spending in the United States was $369.7 billion in 2019.

“We’ve seen exactly how much Americans living with diabetes, who rely on insulin, stand to benefit from reducing the cost to patients of this live-saving medication,” said ADA.

Congress has been asked to take action on legislation to limit insulin costs in the past

“This co-pay cap cannot wait; Congress must act right now, given the outsized impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the diabetes community,” said ADA. “One in four Americans living with diabetes reported rationing their insulin to pay for other life essentials like rent, utilities, daycare, and food.”

“While the pandemic has made this situation worse, insulin rationing is a crisis that has been decades in the making,” said ADA. “The price of insulin nearly tripled between 2002 and 2013, and the trend upward has made affording this life-saving medication even more challenging for millions of Americans living with diabetes.”

“It’s time to pass a national co-pay cap to bring economic relief to millions of Americans forced to stretch beyond their means every month to pay for their insulin,” said the ADA, an organization working to improve the quality of life for the over 133 million Americans living with diabetes or prediabetes.

“We must create a system where everyone gets affordable access to medicines they need,” said Lower Drug Prices Now Executive Director Margarida Jorge. “It’s time to stop drug corporations from price gouging patients, insist that the government create fair rules to ensure access and affordability for everyone, and hold elected officials accountable for setting policy based on what’s best for people, not for corporate profits. This is a case where people’s lives truly depend on it.”

The ADA is supporting the Affordable Insulin Now Act introduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The ADA encourages our nation’s leaders to join us in supporting these two critical bills and urges Congress to approve this $35 national insulin co-pay cap.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill that would cap insulin prices at $35 per month for Americans with diabetes but it H.R. 5376, also known as the Build Back Better bill, died in the U.S. Senate.

Every year, pharmaceutical companies contribute millions of dollars to U.S. senators and representatives as part of a multipronged effort to influence health care lawmaking and spending priorities.

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. has taken at least $1,049,300 from pharmaceutical companies, while Sen. Robert Menendez accepted at least $819,300, Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. took at least $438,500, Sen. Cory Booker received at least $227,500, and Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman has taken at least $172,000.

Rep. Donald Payne Jr. has taken at least $92,500 from pharmaceutical companies, Rep. Josh Gottheimer took at least $86,800, Rep. Donald Norcross accepted at least $84,500, and Rep. Mikie Sherrill has taken at least $83,500.

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