WASHINGTON, D.C. — The following statement was issued by David Mitchell, a cancer patient and founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now, in response to Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Susan Collins’ legislation Improving Needed Safeguards for Users of Lifesaving Insulin Now (INSULIN) Act:
“The bipartisan effort by Senators Shaheen and Collins is further evidence of the power of the drug pricing issue for voters of all political persuasions — Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike. Members of Congress understand that Americans want action to lower drug prices — and insulin has special poignancy.
“People with diabetes are at the mercy of unjustly high insulin prices, and a $35 copay cap would deliver relief to those with insurance. Four out of five adults who live with diabetes or are caregivers for someone with diabetes have gone into debt to pay for insulin.
“But this legislative text does not guarantee lower list prices for insulin, without which copay caps will result in cost-shifting for insulin and lead to higher premiums and taxes. Without lowering list prices, the insulin copay caps are estimated to cost more than $20 billion over 10 years, according to a Congressional Budget Office score of the insulin copay cap bill passed by the House of Representatives. It is difficult to imagine insulin makers will voluntarily reduce their net prices. History tells us we cannot rely on pharma to do the right thing, and this bill does not offer any enforcement.
“Conversely, Senate Democrats have a unique opportunity right now to pass comprehensive legislation that would both cap insulin copays and lower the list price of insulin and other critical drugs. The drug price provisions passed by the House and under consideration by the Senate will cap insulin copays to $35, prevent drug corporations from price gouging patients with year-over-year increases, and finally allow Medicare to negotiate directly with drug companies for lower prices on prescription drugs, including insulin.
“There are millions of patients who rely on expensive medications who urgently need the reforms in the drug pricing package, including, most importantly, Medicare negotiation. There is a path forward in the Senate to pass the legislation through reconciliation. President Biden believes the votes are there to pass drug pricing reform, Speaker Pelosi expressed optimism for the reconciliation bill, Senator Manchin and Majority Leader Schumer’s negotiations on reconciliation have resumed, and Senator Manchin remains committed to passing comprehensive drug pricing reforms.
“In order to deliver on their promises to all patients — including those who depend on insulin — the Senate’s number one priority on drug pricing must be to pass the broad drug price provisions through reconciliation.”