Advocates press Congress to address high insulin costs

John Locher/ AP
In this April 18, 2017 file photo, a woman with Type 2 diabetes prepares to inject herself with insulin at her home in Las Vegas. 

Dozens of health care advocacy groups on Monday, World Diabetes Day, called on Congress to pass legislation ensuring access to affordable insulin, particularly for uninsured people.

In a letter to congressional leadership, more than 40 medical advocacy groups asked that Congress expand insulin access.

Acknowledging the recent $35 monthly insulin cap that was established for Medicare Part D beneficiaries in the Inflation Reduction Act, the groups said the measure “barely scratches the surface of what is needed” and did nothing to address “excessive prices” set by insulin manufacturers.

Senate Democrats in August failed to advance a proposal sponsored by Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) to expand this $35 monthly insulin cap to include patients not covered by Medicare.

Noting the urgent need for expanded insulin access, the groups cited recent studies that found as many as 1 in 4 people with Type 1 diabetes ration their insulin, with Black Americans disproportionately rationing the crucial medication.

The letter stated that any legislation to expand insulin access must include two measures: to ensure that people with no insurance or private have sufficient access to insulin and to stop manufacturers from charging “excessive prices.”

“Abusive pricing of insulin, which the very same corporations who sell insulin here sell for a fraction of the price in other wealthy countries, has led to immense profits for these corporations at the cost of preventable suffering and death of people who need insulin, in addition to billions of dollars drained from government coffers and consumers’ bank accounts,” read the letter.

This letter was first reported by Politico.

Health care advocacy groups that signed the letter include the American Academy of Family Physicians, the Medicare Rights Center, Public Citizen and The Insulin Initiative.

The Biden administration has made some efforts to reduce insulin costs. Last year, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first interchangeable biosimilar insulin product, allowing the lower-costing Semglee insulin product to be interchanged with the common diabetes drug Lantus.

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