Healthcare

Insulin manufacturers to testify as part of House pricing probe

The only three companies that manufacture insulin in the United States will testify in the House next week about their pricing practices.

Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), chairwoman of the House Energy and Commerce oversight subcommittee, said the three companies— Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi— will testify April 10.

“We want to know why the cost of this life-saving drug has skyrocketed in recent years, and why they’re not offering more lower-cost alternatives to patients,” DeGette said.

{mosads}The hearing will be the committee’s second in two weeks examining rising insulin prices, and what Congress can do to make the drug more affordable.

Degette said the panel will also hear from the three largest pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) about their role.

Lawmakers are zeroing in on the skyrocketing cost of insulin and putting pressure on manufacturers as they work to address high drug prices. Three companies control 99 percent of the world’s insulin, and lawmakers are demanding they explain their pricing.

But untangling the price is not easy. Drugmakers say the list price of insulin isn’t what patients actually pay, because secret rebates negotiated by pharmacy benefit managers will reduce it.

Insurers say they spread the savings from discounts to lower overall premiums.

For the first time, there are bipartisan and bicameral probes from the top health care committees into the insulin market.

Across the Capitol, bipartisan Senate Finance Committee leaders have pledged to investigate spiking insulin prices.

The committee will also hear from PBM executives next week as part of a larger investigation into drug prices.

Ahead of the April 9 hearing, Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and ranking member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) sent letters to Cigna/Express Scripts, CVS, and Optum, seeking information and documents related to the companies’ relationships with insulin manufacturers, public insurance programs and private insurance plans, as well as pharmacies.

“As consumers face rising bills at the pharmacy counter, it is unclear whether PBMs are appropriately leveraging their power for the benefit of taxpayers and patients, especially patients who take multiple or high-cost medications,” Grassley and Wyden wrote.

Tags Chuck Grassley Diana DeGette Ron Wyden
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