Insulin manufacturers called on to explain skyrocketing prices

On Tuesday, a group of U.S. Senators lead by Patty Murray (D-WA) sent letters to executives at the “Big Three” insulin manufacturers — Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi — demanding information about the rising prices of insulin in the United States.

The letter reads in part:

“According to the World Health Organization, insulin is an essential medicine, meaning that access to this drug at a price that individuals and communities can afford is a basic requirement of a functioning health care system. Unfortunately, rapidly increasing insulin prices mean that for many patients, access to this essential medicine is threatened. Patients have had to resort to desperate measures when confronted with increased insulin prices or high cost-sharing for their prescriptions. Some patients have turned to GoFundMe pages to request help paying for insulin, and one in four diabetic patients report rationing the medication because of the cost, with potentially devastating consequences. It is clear these steep price increases are resulting in patients lacking access to the life-saving medications they need.”

There has been increased attention recently over the skyrocketing prices of insulin, with stories of insulin rationing becoming all too common. The news comes on the heels of several prominent politicians wading into the insulin pricing debate.

Last December, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., released a statement detailing a handful of new guidances designed to increase competition and bring down prices across the insulin market. In January, a congressman introduced the “Insulin Access For All” act for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. And on Monday, January 14, The House Oversight Committee announced that they are investigating the actions of a dozen pharmaceutical companies. Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi are among the companies the panel is seeking detailed drug price information from.

The letters (available below) were also signed by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Doug Jones (D-AL), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tina Smith (D-MN) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

  • A PDF of the letter to Eli Lilly is available HERE
  • A PDF of the letter to Novo Nordisk is available HERE
  • A PDF of the letter to Sanofi is available HERE

If you or someone you know needs help getting insulin, click here.


Bob Casey - my Senator could care less about lower drug prices - I have had traded emails where he insists drugs from Canada are poison while taking 476K from big pharma in the last 4 years

this is all smoke and mirrors - nothing will come of it until the guillotines come out and the dogs are lapping up their blood

Follow the money

I would like a law passed that all Congressmen and Congresswomen must publish a list every year that would list all monies and gifts received from Companies and PACs.

You mean like this - and casey is at the top - he will not lift a finger to help - BOOKMARK IT

|Casey, Bob (D-PA)|$533,339|

|Heitkamp, Heidi (D-ND)|$309,542|

|Donnelly, Joe (D-IN)|$259,370|

|Tester, Jon (D-MT)|$244,073|
|Hatch, Orrin G (R-UT)|$238,289|
|Heller, Dean (R-NV)|$237,142|
|Barrasso, John A (R-WY)|$214,000|
|McCaskill, Claire (D-MO)|$203,976|

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You may a good point, @Tony24. I like that efforts continue to unfold to counteract this runaway insulin pricing market, but we really need to somehow address the ability of Big Money to decidedly tilt the field to benefit themselves.

Transparency is the first thing needed and resources like the OpenSecrets cite you link to help with that. We’d benefit even more if the corporate media (another tentacle of Big Money) would give this even half the attention they pay to Trump’s twitter tales.

We are moving in the right direction but need to keep pushing this issue until the price of insulin in the US is comparable to the rest of the world. I don’t expect that the big three insulin companies will be much help in this. We, using the power of good government, can do this but it will not be easy.

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What convoluted the issue so tremendously is the net price of insulin that payers are actually paying has almost nothing to do with the list price. The middle men of PBMs are causing this disparity by negotiating larger rebates instead of competing for business by lowering prices. Nobody knows what insurers are actually paying after rebates, but we know that this practice indefinitely pressures the list price upwards. I suspect the true net prices are pretty comparable to what the rest of the world pays, although we’d have no way to know because it’s a tightly protected trade secret


Are PBMs like a wholesaler, worked as a wholesaler for 29 years, in the normal business world? If so, why cant the manufactures, like Lilly, provide a resale price sheet to the PBMs?

Thank you for the post.