Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., says he’s joining colleagues in both the U.S. House and Senate to cap the cost of insulin at $20 per vial. It’s called the Insulin for All Act of 2023.
“Big Pharma continues to rake in record profits by gouging patients on insulin prices,” Merkley said in a statement. “Unaffordable high prices are forcing patients to ration their insulin, leading to dire health consequences – heart attacks, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, foot disease and amputations, even death. It’s tragic, it’s unacceptable, and it’s time to end this rip-off. No one should have to go bankrupt just to afford the daily medication they need to stay healthy. It’s time to put people above profits, and tell the big drug companies that their days extorting Americans who need insulin to survive are over.”
Eli Lilly recently announced it would cut the list prices for its most commonly prescribed insulin, Humalog, and for another insulin, Humulin, by 70% or more in the fourth quarter, which starts in October.
At the time of the announcement, a Lilly spokeswoman said the list price for a 10-milliliter vial of the fast-acting, mealtime insulin Humalog is $274.70. That will fall to $66.40. Likewise, she said the same amount of Humulin currently lists at $148.70. That will change to $44.61.
Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk announced Tuesday it will start slashing some U.S. insulin prices up to 75% next year. Its pre-filled pens and vials of long- and short-acting insulins will see list price reductions. They include Levemir, Novolin, NovoLog and NovoLog Mix70/30.
The price cuts go into effect Jan. 1. A vial of NovoLog and NovoLog Mix 70/30 will drop 75% to $72.34 from $289.36. FlexPen options will fall to $139.71 from more than $500.
The Novo announcement comes a day after Merkley called out that company and Sanofi for not having moved to reduce their prices.
Merkley cited researchers who estimate a vial of insulin costs $8 to manufacture.
The bill is co-sponsored by 13 other Democrats in the House and Senate.
Back in January, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., introduced a similar bill to set a $25 out-of-pocket cap for a monthly supply of insulin through private health plans and Medicare.