Senate Democrats are trying to curb the price of insulin through their social spending bill, which will bring in $739 billion in tax revenue.
The 100-year-old drug has tripled in price in the past two decades, forcing diabetics to pay thousands of dollars a year or ration supplies.
And limiting the price of insulin may continue to grow as more Americans use the treatment.
An analysis by the Congressional Budget Office of a bill proposed earlier this year found that an insulin cap would cost about $23 billion over the next decade and increase government costs and premiums charged by Medicare and private insurers.
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According to the American Diabetes Association, about 11% of Americans live with diabetes. Of those, about 8.4 million use insulin – and for a million of them, the drug is life-saving.
“People need insulin, it’s not an option and no one should have to choose between life-prolonging medication or food and rent,” Dr. Robert Gabbay, chief scientific and medical officer of the American Diabetes Association, to the Associated Press.
The cost of insulin varies depending on health care coverage.
People with private health insurance can potentially pay hundreds of dollars a month. Most Medicare beneficiaries pay $54 per prescription. Others live in one of 22 states where the copay for a 30-day delivery is capped at between $25 and $100, according to the Associated Press.
Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisck and Sanofi are the only insulin manufacturers, allowing them to control much of the market.
|LLY||ELI LILLY & CO.||301.34||-4.45||-1.46%|
|NVO||NOVO NORDISK A/S||103.22||-1.32||-1.26%|
“They’ve increased their list prices for their respective products in step in the past,” Dr. Jing Luo, a professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, told the Associated Press. “There hasn’t been a lot of price pressure.”
According to Luo, a generic insulin drug has not yet been produced due to regulatory hurdles and questions about drug classification.
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Multiple attempts to lower the price of insulin have failed in the Senate. Democrats previously tried to cap the price of insulin to $35 in the Build Back Better bill. More recently, Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Susan Collins are collaborating on a bill to lower the cost of insulin to $35 a month.
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“If your health care provider voluntarily says that no one who buys insulin on our plan has to pay more than $25, the question is who pays the balance of that?” Luo told the Associated Press. “That then means their costs will go up, which means they’ll increase premiums for everyone.”