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Affected Individuals and Advocates: ‘Enormous Mistake’ to Leave Insulin Out of Drug Pricing Legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Hundreds of people affected by high insulin prices and more than two dozen advocacy organizations today told U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) that it would be an “enormous mistake” to exclude Medicare price negotiations and an out-of-pocket cap on insulin in drug pricing legislation currently being debated in Congress.

“As Congress verges on finally putting in place a system for Medicare drug price negotiation and advancing other urgently needed reforms, we ask that you ensure people who need insulin to live are not left behind,” says the letter, signed by Public Citizen, T1International, Families USA, The Insulin Initiative, Social Security Works, Indivisible, Center for Popular Democracy, People’s Action, and other advocacy organizations.

The letter expresses concern with the removal of insulin price negotiation and out-of-pocket cap provisions in the latest draft legislation released by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee – provisions that were included in the prior draft considered by the U.S. Senate in December 2021, as well as drug pricing reform legislation that the U.S. House has passed multiple times in recent years, such as the Build Back Better Act.

“As drug pricing legislation advances through the budget reconciliation process, policymakers must, at least, include price negotiation and Medicare out-of-pocket cost provisions that have previously been uncontroversial in the caucus. It would be an enormous mistake to exclude insulin price negotiation and out-of-pocket protections that previously received overwhelming support and miss this key opportunity,” notes the letter.

The U.S. regularly pays more than other large, high-income countries for prescription drugs. According to a recent Public Citizen report, in 2020, drug corporations siphoned more revenues from the U.S. than the rest of the world combined for 17 of the top 20 drugs in worldwide sales.

“Excluding insulin from drug pricing reform would be a slap in the face for the millions of Americans who rely on this lifesaving medicine to manage their diabetes,” said Peter Maybarduk, Access to Medicines program director at Public Citizen. “Insulin typifies the price abuse and treatment rationing that drug price reform must begin to fix, so it’s particularly shocking that Congress has dropped it. We urge Majority Leader Schumer to do everything in his power reinsert insulin into the bill without delay.”