NEWS: Chairman Sanders Applauds Public Pressure for Forcing Eli Lilly to Reduce Cost of Insulin by 70%, Sends Letters to Remaining Companies to Follow Suit

Sanders will soon introduce legislation to cap the price of insulin at $20 a vial

WASHINGTON, March 1 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (HELP), on Wednesday applauded people with diabetes for organizing to force Eli Lilly and Company to reduce the cost of insulin by 70 percent. Sanders also sent letters to other major insulin makers – Sanofi and Novo Nordisk – calling on them to follow suit.

“This is what fighting back accomplishes,” Sanders said after the announcement. “At a time when Eli Lilly made over $7 billion in profits last year, public pressure forced them to reduce the price of insulin by 70 percent. Now is the time for Sanofi and Novo Nordisk to do the same. Now is the time to end the greed of the pharmaceutical industry and substantially lower the outrageous cost of prescription drugs in America.”

In 1923, the inventors of insulin sold their patent for $1 to save lives, not to make pharmaceutical executives extremely wealthy. Today, insulin costs just $8 to manufacture. Despite this, Eli Lilly has increased their insulin prices by 1,200 percent to $275 since 1996. Meanwhile, 1.3 million Americans were forced to ration insulin last year because of the unaffordable cost of this lifesaving drug.

In 2019, Sanders took a busload of people with diabetes from Michigan to Canada, where they were able to purchase the same insulin products they bought in the United States for one-tenth the price.

In the letters sent to Sanofi and Novo Nordisk – which along with Eli Lilly make up 90 percent of the insulin market in the U.S. – the HELP Committee Chairman called on the CEOs to follow Lilly’s example.

“I urge you to join Eli Lilly in substantially lowering the price your company charges for insulin and make certain that all Americans can purchase this lifesaving drug,” Sanders wrote. “I look forward to hearing from you about the steps you will take to substantially reduce the price of insulin as soon as possible.”

Sanders also announced today that he will soon introduce legislation that would cap the price of insulin at $20 a vial.

To read the letter to Sanofi, click here.

To read the letter to Novo Nordisk, click here.