A bill introduced by Rep. Peter WelchPeter Francis WelchThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Former US attorney considering Senate run in Vermont as Republican Members of Congress not running for reelection in 2022 MORE (D-Vt.) on Wednesday would let patients import cheaper insulin from Canada and other countries.
“Prices for insulin have gone through the roof and are hammering diabetes patients who cannot live without this life-saving medicine yet cannot afford to pay for it," Welch said in a statement.
Insulin, which is used to treat diabetes, can cost diabetics thousands of dollar a year in the U.S. because of the lack of generic competition, but it's often cheaper in other countries.
The bill would legalize importation of insulin from Canada by patients, pharmacists and wholesalers for two years before expanding to other countries with safety standards similar to the U.S.
Welch's proposal would require that the Food and Drug Administration certify and inspect all foreign exporters of insulin, and patients would still need prescriptions to buy it.
A similar bill introduced last month by Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Manchin says no; White House fires back House Democrats find drug companies 'unjustified' in price hikes Your must-read holiday book list from members of Congress MORE (D-Md.) and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersFilibuster becomes new litmus test for Democrats Gallego says he's been approached about challenging Sinema Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans MORE (I-Vt.) is more broad and would allow the importation of qualifying prescription drugs, excluding controlled substances. Welch co-sponsored that measure.
The bills comes as Congress investigates the escalating costs of prescription drugs in the U.S.
The Senate Finance Committee will hear from seven drugmakers next week, including one insulin manufacturer, about product pricing.
The Energy and Commerce Committee launched an investigation last month into the three main insulin manufacturers in the U.S. over rising costs.