WASHINGTON, April 21 – Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) announced on Friday that the committee will hold a hearing entitled “The Need to Make Insulin Affordable for All Americans” on Wednesday, May 10 at 1:00 p.m. ET.
The CEOs from the major insulin manufacturers, Eli Lilly and Company, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi, and top executives from the major pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) of CVS Health, Express Scripts, and OptumRX, will testify.
“As a result of public outrage and strong grassroots efforts, major pharmaceutical companies recently announced that they would be substantially reducing the price of insulin,” Sanders said. “That’s an important step forward. We must make certain, however, that those price reductions go into effect in a way that results in every American getting the insulin they need at an affordable price. But that’s not all. We have got to substantially lower the price of all prescription drugs. The United States cannot continue to pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs while drug companies and PBMs make billions in profits. That’s what this hearing is all about.”
In 1923, the inventors of insulin sold their patent for $1 to save lives, not to make pharmaceutical executives extremely wealthy. While researchers estimate a vial of insulin costs just $8 to manufacture, the price has gone up by over 1,000 percent since 1996. Sanofi’s Lantus costs $292 per vial. Novo Nordisk’s Novolog is listed at $289. Eli Lilly’s Humalog can be purchased for $275. People with diabetes face nearly $17,000 per year in medical expenses, more than half of which is directly attributable to their diabetes. In the U.S., health care for people with diabetes accounts for one in four health care dollars.
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 U.S. for one-tenth the price.
Following a major public pressure campaign, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi – which together make up 90 percent of the insulin market in the U.S. – recently announced they would cut the prices of their most popular insulins by 70 percent or more. In March, Sanders and Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) introduced legislation that would cap the list price of insulin at no more than $20 per vial.
Read Sen. Sanders’ letters to Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi calling on them to lower their prices, here.
Read Sen. Sanders and Rep. Cori Bush’s legislation to cap the price of insulin, here.
What: Hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions to consider “The Need to Make Insulin Affordable to All Americans”
When: 1:00 p.m. ET, May 10, 2023
Where: Room 216, Hart Senate Office Building. The hearing will also be livestreamed on the HELP Committee’s website and Sanders’ social media pages.
- David Ricks, Chair and Chief Executive Officer, Eli Lilly and Company
- Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen, President and Chief Executive Officer, Novo Nordisk
- Paul Hudson, Chief Executive Officer, Sanofi
- David Joyner, Executive Vice President and President of Pharmacy Services, CVS Health
- Adam Kautzner, President, Express Scripts
- Heather Cianfrocco, Chief Executive Officer, OptumRX