WHY LOWERING THE COST OF INSULIN IS SO HARD IN THE US
Over the weekend, the Senate tried to rein in the skyrocketing price of insulin for millions of diabetic Americans but ultimately couldn’t garner enough support. The failure reflects the complexity in regulating insulin and the stronghold pharmaceutical companies have on the drug.
Most of the world’s insulin is produced by just three companies: Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi. The drug itself has not changed since it was first discovered about 100 years ago.
Senate Democrats tried to rally support for a proposal that would have capped out-of-pocket insulin costs at $35 a month for people not covered by Medicare — but fell just three votes short.
However, they were able to secure the $35 insulin price cap for Medicare beneficiaries.
Most diabetic Americans, however, will still face steep insulin costs, as 2020 Census Bureau data shows about 54 percent of Americans were in employment-based health insurance plans while about 18 percent were enrolled in Medicare. There were also about 28 million people who did not have any health insurance in 2020.
At the same time there are more than 34 million people of all ages that have diabetes in the U.S. It’s considered the most expensive chronic illness in the country, with $1 out of every $4 in health care costs spent on caring for people with the condition.