West Virginia is a state with one of the highest rates of diabetes, and many diabetics require insulin.|
The cost of insulin has gone through the roof.
The price for a vial of one the most popular insulin brands, Humalog, increased from $21 in 1996, to $35 in 2001, to $234 in 2015, to $275 in 2017. There are no generic forms of insulin on the market, but there are some cheaper “biosimilar” versions.
Rising insulin costs are drawing outrage from diabetes advocates, leading to calls for greater transparency and federal oversight of the market for a drug that helps more than 7 million Americans.
Insulin was first discovered nearly 100 years ago, and as newer forms of the drug have been introduced, the price has climbed.
Three companies — Eli Lilly, Sanofi and Novo Nordisk — control 99 percent of the world’s insulin, and advocates have been asking them to explain their pricing.
They have not.
According to the American Diabetes Association, the average price of insulin nearly tripled between 2002 and 2013.
“Americans need Congress to take action to ensure a vibrant, competitive insulin market that serves consumers instead of drug company CEOs. Insulin is not a luxury. It is required for life,” said Ben Wakana, executive director of the advocacy group Patients for Affordable Drugs.
Congress is currently moving to eliminate many rules and regulations on American businesses, and has yet to take any action or price control.
The American Medical Association (AMA), the country’s largest physician group, has called for the federal government to protect patients from being harmed by companies price gouging on insulin products.
“It is shocking and unconscionable that our patients struggle to secure a basic medicine like insulin,” said AMA board member William McDade in a statement. “The federal government needs to step in and help make sure patients aren’t being exploited with exorbitant costs.”