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Why Are Insulin Prices Rising

Klobuchar Calls For Congressional Action To Ease Insulin Prices

Klobuchar Calls For Congressional Action To Ease Insulin Prices

The cost of insulin has more than tripled in the last decade, and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar says it's financially squeezing people with diabetes who rely on the drug to regulate their blood sugar. The Democratic senator scheduled a news conference Sunday at Regions Hospital in St. Paul to call for congressional action. "This is really hurting regular Minnesotans for no reason," Klobuchar said in a phone interview earlier in the day. "This is not a newly innovative drug. It is not something that's for a rare disease. It's one of the more common diseases in America." In fact, roughly 29 million Americans have diabetes, including about 320,000 Minnesotans. Klobuchar called for votes on bills she is pushing in Congress that increase competition by allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs, ease restrictions on importing drugs from Canada and increase the availability of generic drugs. Klobuchar also co-authored a bill that would end the practice of brand-name drug companies paying to keep generic versions off the market. "A lot of why we're seeing the rising prices is a lack of competition and the fact that the drug companies see a monopoly and they go for it," she said. "We just don't have a lot of competitive products." Earlier this month, Klobuchar sent letters to the CEOs of three pharmaceutical companies: Eli Lilly, Sanofi and Novo Nordisk, pressing for an explanation. She wrote that the simultaneous price increases "raise questions about potential coordination." Continue reading >>

What’s Behind Skyrocketing Insulin Prices?

What’s Behind Skyrocketing Insulin Prices?

Here’s a sticking point for diabetics: the cost of insulin more than tripled — from $231 to $736 a year per patient — between 2002 and 2013, according to a new analysis. The increase reflected rising prices for a milliliter of insulin, which climbed 197 percent from $4.34 per to $12.92 during the same period. Meanwhile, the amount of money spent by each patient on other diabetes medications fell 16 percent, to $502 from $600, according to a research letter published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. “Insulin is a life-saving medication,” said Dr. William Herman, a coauthor of the analysis and a professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. “There are people with type 1 diabetes who will die without insulin. And while there have been incremental benefits in insulin products, prices have been rising. So there are people who can’t afford them. It’s a real problem.” The analysis also found that the cost of various widely used oral diabetes drugs either dropped in price or did not rise nearly as significantly as insulin. Metformin, for instance, which is available as a generic, fell to 31 cents in 2013 from $1.24 per tablet in 2002. And the newer class of diabetes drugs known as DPP-4 inhibitors rose 34 percent since becoming available in 2006. The researchers analyzed data from nearly 28,000 diabetes found in the Medical Expenditure Panel, a database on health care costs maintained by the US Department of Health and Human Services. About 1 in 4 people used insulin and two-thirds took a pill. Toward the end of the study period, a small percentage began taking new injectable medicines that are designed to complement pills. There have been previous efforts to track insulin prices in recent years, bu Continue reading >>

Is Insulin The New Epipen? Families Facing Sticker Shock Over 400 Percent Price Hike

Is Insulin The New Epipen? Families Facing Sticker Shock Over 400 Percent Price Hike

Is insulin is the new EpiPen? In the last eight years, the average price per milliliter of insulin has skyrocketed by over 200 percent. But there's one major difference. If you can't get an EpiPen, there's a chance you might die. If your body doesn't have insulin, you certainly will die. "It feels like they're holding my kid ransom," said Tiffany Cara, whose son has diabetes. Only three major companies make insulin in the U.S. and each has steadily ratcheted up prices, sometimes in lockstep. Since 2004, the manufacturer list price for insulin, known as wholesale acquisition cost, is up by triple digits. Novo Nordisk's insulin Novolog is up 381 percent, Eli Lilly's Humalog is up 380 percent and Sanofi's Lantus is up 400 percent, according to data from Truven Health Analytics. That's sending some diabetic families into sticker shock. Six-year-old Dorian Carra loves to play outside his Texas home and dress up as a super hero. Specifically, Captain America, the World War II version. His mom says her outgoing boy has "never met a stranger." But four years ago he couldn't stay awake. He was breathing oddly. His parents brought his rag doll body to the E.R. Doctors said his blood sugar levels had spiked to 965 milligrams of glucose per deciliter of blood. A normal range is 80 to 140. The diagnosis was type-1 diabetes. The prescription was insulin, every day, for the rest of his life. Recently those treatment costs doubled after the Carra's health insurance company switched to cover another brand. Even though the brands are clinically the same, the new medicine isn't available in the dosages he needs, so they have to stick with the more expensive kind. Tiffany Carra, a thirty-two-year-old IT field support analyst, says it now costs them $1,880 a year for insulin and supplies. 6 Continue reading >>

Unpacking The Rising Cost Of Insulin And What It Means For Patients

Unpacking The Rising Cost Of Insulin And What It Means For Patients

By Ilana Orloff and the diaTribe team Twitter Summary: We investigate the rising cost of insulin, why this might be occurring, how it impacts patients, and financial resources to help. Bloomberg recently published an article titled “Hot Drugs Show Sharp Price Hikes in Shadow Market,” discussing the rapid rise in wholesale prices for certain prescription drugs. The article highlighted price increases for diabetes drugs and insulin in particular, noting that diabetes drugs accounted for five of the 27 branded drugs with price increases of at least 20% over the past year. Below, we investigate this phenomenon, why it might be occurring, and what people may not immediately see about dynamics in the field. Importantly, we also discuss what this means for patients and provide some resources to help patients access top branded drugs. Table of Contents What may be causing this trend? So what is happening to insulin prices? The Bloomberg article focuses on the rise in wholesale insulin prices, which approximate the price that would be displayed on a store shelf (most individuals with health insurance pay a lower, subsidized price). Several brands of insulin have seen wholesale price increases of more than 160% over the last five years, including Eli Lilly’s Humulin R (human insulin), Novo Nordisk’s Levemir (basal insulin determir), and Sanofi’s Lantus (basal insulin glargine). Lantus and Levemir prices increased by ~30% in 2014 last year. Putting this into context, the Express Scripts Prescription Price Index illustrates that branded drug prices have increased at 12% per year over the last five years while these insulin brands rose 15%+ per year (generic drug prices are down 50% on average over this period and are quite inexpensive compared to development costs). Howev Continue reading >>

Insulin Prices Are Skyrocketing, Too

Insulin Prices Are Skyrocketing, Too

The EpiPen isn’t the only life-saving medication that has experienced egregious price increases in the past decade; according to a study from the the Journal of the American Medical Association published this spring, prices for insulin are also rising—to such a degree that some Americans with diabetes simply aren’t buying it anymore. Over 29 million Americans suffer from diabetes and need insulin, according to the American Diabetes Association, and there’s no generic option for any insulin brand. JAMA’s study looked at the prices of insulin from 2002 to 2013. It found that “the mean price of insulin increased from $4.34/mL in 2002 to $12.92/mL in 2013—a 200% increase.” Spending per patient sky-rocketed from about $231 to $736, the study found. A survey of hundreds of people from 40 countries by T1International, a diabetes advocacy group, found that patients in the U.S. pay astronomically more for insulin than people in other countries. Mylan, the company that sells EpiPens, came under fire this summer when the media caught on to the fact that prices for the life-saving allergy medication have increased 500% over the past 10 years. Mylan has been on a PR blitz to fix its image, first increasing its co-pay savings card for customers and then announcing it will sell a generic version for half the price. Read Next: Cheaper EpiPen Alternatives You Can Buy Right Now…Plus More Coming Soon Like the EpiPen increase, the price spike for insulin most affects patients with high-deductible health plans (the number of Americans with HDHPs has been steadily increasing since the passage of the Affordable Care Act). It also hits Medicare patients, particularly those over 60, the age group of the average insulin user, according to the JAMA study. Local news outlets are Continue reading >>

Diabetes Advocates Protest At Eli Lilly About Insulin Prices

Diabetes Advocates Protest At Eli Lilly About Insulin Prices

On Saturday, September 9th, 2017 a group of diabetes patient advocates organized by T1International and People of Faith for Access to Medicines (PFAM) showed up in front of Eli Lilly’s Headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana to protest rising insulin prices. Eli Lilly is one of the three top insulin manufacturers. The company markets Basaglar, Glucagon, Humalog, and other diabetes products. They are currently being sued in class action suit along with the other insulin makers, Sanofi and Novo Nordisk. T1International, an advocacy group who launched the initiative #insulin4all wrote on their blog that this protest was about those living with diabetes speaking up against the prices that ensure their survival. They want transparency about the costs associated with making insulin and the profits they make. They also want them to “commit to stopping the immoral act of price gouging people who depend on this medicine for survival.” Their specific requests to Eli Lilly: Be transparent about how much it costs to make one vial of Humalog insulin Be transparent about your profits from each vial Lower the price of insulin Involved in the protests were also parents of children with type 1 diabetes. One was Meri Schuhmacher-Jackson who blogs about life with 3 children with type 1 diabetes and commented on her reason for showing up to the protest: I went to the protest because I’m tired of doing nothing. It’s so easy to say, “This won’t change anything”…but certainly we must try. It turns out, there were newspapers there, there were radio stations there, and the story ended up on the front page of the Sunday paper. More people are made aware now than last week. I understand the entire world didn’t hear our cries…but if we’re lucky, the right person heard. We can Continue reading >>

Eli Lilly Raised Prices On 9 Drugs Last Week

Eli Lilly Raised Prices On 9 Drugs Last Week

Indianapolis drug giant Eli Lilly raised list prices of nine of its medicines last week between 6 and 10 percent, according to data obtained by CNBC. The increases, taken on May 2, were for drugs including the blood thinner Effient (9.9 percent), the psoriasis drug Taltz (6.9 percent) and the insulins Humalog and Humulin (7.8 percent). The increases fit a pattern at Lilly and many other drugmakers of single-digit percentage hikes once or twice a year, despite political pressure and intense scrutiny of the practices. Lilly has come under fire for the price of its insulin drugs in particular, leading Senator Bernie Sanders to call for a federal investigation into collusion. Lilly and other insulin makers have denied any such activity. Lilly confirmed the price increases in an emailed statement to CNBC, and noted the list prices "do not reflect the significant discounts and rebates that we provide to ensure patients have adequate access to our medicines." "The net price increase that Lilly recognizes is significantly less," spokesman Mark Taylor wrote. "In fact, in 2016, the average discount to list price on our U.S. portfolio rose to 50 percent and net prices rose just 2.4 percent in the U.S." Rebates on list prices of medicines are negotiated by pharmacy benefits managers. Drugmakers argue few patients are exposed to the list prices of medicines because of these discounts and rebates. One of the largest pharmacy benefits managers, Express Scripts, announced this week a program to offer lower drug prices to patients without health insurance or who have high-deductible plans that make out-of-pocket costs for medicines untenable. Lilly's chief executive, Dave Ricks, appeared on CBS This Morning with Express Scripts Chief Tim Wentworth to praise the program, called Inside Rx Continue reading >>

Lilly Insulin Prices Under Microscope

Lilly Insulin Prices Under Microscope

INDIANAPOLIS — Over the past 20 years, while the price of a gallon of milk climbed 23 percent and the sticker on a Dodge Caravan minivan rose 21 percent, the list price of the insulin Humalog, made by Eli Lilly and Co., shot up 1,157 percent. Other Lilly insulins saw hefty price increases, too, including Humulin, on the market since 1982. It has seen price increases totaling nearly 800 percent over the last two decades. The soaring prices at Indianapolis-based Lilly — and two other insulin makers, whose prices are climbing at similar rates — are sending sticker shock through the diabetes community. In recent months, patients have filed lawsuits and called for congressional investigations, and now they’re planning a demonstration next month in front of Lilly’s headquarters on South Delaware Street. The actions are casting a bright glare on Lilly’s oldest and perhaps most famous franchise. The company was the first to mass produce insulin in the 1920s, a move that allowed it to attract scientists and make other breakthroughs in fields from cancer to depression. Click here to purchase photos from this gallery It’s a critical time for Lilly, as it tries to increase its dominance in the $10 billion diabetes-drug market against chief rivals Sanofi of France and Novo Nordisk of Denmark. Lilly CEO David Ricks continues to point to diabetes as a key area for investment and growth, but the company’s ability to keep patients and physicians satisfied could depend on how well it addresses their concerns over prices. Already, some physicians say high insulin prices across the industry are causing financially strapped patients to ration or discontinue their medicines, which could lead to serious medical problems. “It’s an everyday thing,” said Dr. Michael Hancock Continue reading >>

What Effects The Price Of Insulin?

What Effects The Price Of Insulin?

For people with Diabetes, insulin is not a luxury, it is necessary for them to stay alive. Yet the price of insulin has skyrocketed in recent years. For many people with diabetes, these rising costs have placed an enormous burden on them. Imagine having to make a choice between keeping your electric on or buying insulin, pay your rent, or buy insulin, buy groceries or buy the medicine you need to survive. According to Alan Carter, PharmD, principal investigator and senior advisor at MRIGlobal, and adjunct faculty at University of Missouri–Kansas City School of Pharmacy, the costs of insulin have to do with raw material and manufacturing equipment costs, quality control and wholesale distribution, and pharmacy costs. But the primary impact to the rising price of insulin is the rebate programs that the federal government requires through the Medicaid rebate program, and the PBM’s rebates. When insulin was first discovered in 1921, the patent was sold to a university for $3 so that no one else could patent it and “secure a profitable monopoly.”. At the time, a vial of insulin could be bought for less then $1. But newer forms of insulin have come out since then. All of the newer forms came out at higher prices, and the prices just kept going up. One form of insulin that was available in 1997 for $17 a vial had risen to $138 in 2016. Another form that was just released a few years ago at $21 a vial now costs $255 for the same amount. According to Insulin manufacturers, these list prices don’t tell the full story because “nobody pays list prices”. They claim that they aren’t making more profits now from insulin then they did before the drastic price increases. The manufacturers claim that the insurers negotiate secret rebates with the pharmacies that limits th Continue reading >>

Several Probes Target Insulin Drug Pricing

Several Probes Target Insulin Drug Pricing

With the price of a crucial diabetes drug skyrocketing, at least five states and a federal prosecutor are demanding information from insulin manufacturers and the pharmaceutical industry’s financial middlemen about their business relationships and the soaring price of diabetes drugs. Attorneys general in Washington, Minnesota and New Mexico issued civil investigative demands this year and are sharing information with Florida and California, according to various corporate financial filings. Insulin makers Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, Sanofi and top pharmacy benefit manager CVS Health are targets in the state investigations. Several of the financial filings note that the state and federal prosecutors want information regarding specific insulins for specific dates in relation to “trade practices.” They appear to be looking into potentially anti-competitive business dealings that critics have leveled at this more than $20 billion niche market of the pharmaceutical industry, according to analysts and court filings reviewed by Kaiser Health News. These include whether drug makers and middlemen in the supply chain have allowed prices to escalate in order to increase their profits. At the same time, prominent class-action lawyers are bringing suits on behalf of patients. Steve Berman, an attorney best known for winning a multibillion-dollar settlement from the tobacco industry, alleged collusion and said it was time to break up the “insulin racket.” The price of insulin — a lifesaving drug — has reached record highs as Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi raised prices more than 240 percent over the past decade to often over $300 a vial today, with price rises frequently in lockstep, according to information technology firm Connecture. Those prices take a toll on patien Continue reading >>

Diabetics Protest Rising Insulin Prices At Drug Company Headquarters

Diabetics Protest Rising Insulin Prices At Drug Company Headquarters

More than half a million Hoosiers have been diagnosed with diabetes, and many of them rely on insulin to live healthy lives. But patients say the skyrocketing price of the medicine ‒ which more than doubled from 2002 to 2013 ‒ is squeezing them to the point of outrage. The frustration bubbled over at a rally in front of Eli Lilly headquarters in downtown Indianapolis Saturday. Protestors held signs reading “Insulin for All” and “Insulin = Life.” The protest of a few dozen people comprised what organizers believe is the first demonstration of its kind. Insulin’s rapidly-rising cost ‒ and lack of an affordable, generic option ‒ is putting people’s health at risk, protestors say, and making them a slave to the price of the vital hormone. Mike Hoskins, a Type 1 diabetic, said he has good health insurance, but still goes without insulin sometimes to save money. “I don’t use it as much,” he said, “Sometimes, I adjust what I’m eating or my routine so I don’t have to spend as much on insulin.” Horror stories abound of diabetics skimping on injections ‒ or even intentionally slipping into a coma to receive doses of insulin inside the ER. Some diabetics can’t function without insulin, and in some cases, not taking enough can be life-threateningly dangerous. The Indianapolis-based Lilly was the first company to mass-produce insulin in the 1980s. The company is now one of three manufacturers, along with the European companies Sanofi and Novo Nordisk, that dominate the market for the hormone. The trio is now facing a class-action lawsuit accusing them of price-fixing. According to the lawsuit, the list price of Lilly’s drug, called Humalog, has doubled in the past five years. In the mid-‘90s, when the drug was first launched, it cost $21 a v Continue reading >>

High Cost And Rising Insulin Prices Affect The Neediest In Our Community

High Cost And Rising Insulin Prices Affect The Neediest In Our Community

High cost and rising insulin prices affect the neediest in our community by Lindsey Verano, RD, LDN, CDE and Mary Laxton, DHSc, PA-C Nearly 30 million Americans have diabetes mellitus. A small percent of diabetics have Type 1 diabetes that requires insulin to replace the non-existent native insulin produced by the pancreas. A much larger percent are Type 2 diabetics whose disease can be managed with diet, exercise, and oral prescription medications. Increasingly even Type 2 diabetics require some form of injectable insulin to treat their condition, avoid hospitalizations, slow the pace of organ damage, and maintain as healthy a lifestyle as possible given the progressive and unrelenting nature of this disease. According to the American Diabetic Association, 1 in 5 health care dollars and 1 in 3 Medicare dollars is spent caring for patients with diabetes. People with a diagnosis of diabetes have health care costs 2.3 times greater than those without diabetes. Diabetes-related complications lead to high morbidity and mortality and an increase in disability-adjusted life years, meaning a loss of years of a “healthy life.” According to the World Health Organization (2017), the accumulative effect of DALYs identifies the gap between current health status and ideal health status that allows an individual to live to an advanced age free of disease and quality-of-life-limiting disabilities. In an article in the Journal of the American Medical Society (2014) the authors noted continued increases in the incidence and prevalence of diabetes among non-Hispanic blacks, Hispanic subpopulations, and those with a high school education or less. The American Diabetes Association reported in March, 2017 that African Americans, Mexican Americans, and American Indians are more likely to Continue reading >>

Trump's Hhs Secretary Nominee Boosted Drug Prices While At Eli Lilly

Trump's Hhs Secretary Nominee Boosted Drug Prices While At Eli Lilly

President Donald Trump tweeted Monday that his nominee for HHS secretary, Alex Azar will “be a star for … lower drug prices!” But the record of the former top executive for Eli Lilly, which tripled the price of a top-selling insulin drug while he led its U.S. operation, suggests a different story. Lilly is one of three drug companies targeted by a class-action lawsuit that accuses the company, then under Azar’s watch, of exploiting the drug pricing system to ensure higher profit for insulin and has been fined in Mexico for colluding on the pricing of the drug. Azar, who spent almost a decade at Eli Lilly, rising to become president of the drug giant’s U.S. operations before leaving earlier this year, doesn’t deny drug costs are a consumer issue. But his record there and as a top official in George W. Bush’s administration suggests he’s unlikely to push pricing policies that would hit pharmaceutical companies’ pocketbooks. In recent years, Azar has defended pricing practices, and argued against the approaches to reduce costs to consumers as Trump endorsed during his campaign, such as allowing the government to negotiate drug prices and importing medicines from oversees. Instead, Azar has followed the pharma messaging playbook on drug pricing — deflecting attention to other parts of the health system, and even other countries, blaming them for the high drug costs paid by U.S. patients. He’s also justified drug prices as the cost of innovation. Azar’s nomination signals the status quo, Eric Assaraf of Cowen Washington Research Group wrote in a note to clients Monday. “Although Trump specifically called out lowering drug prices in his announcement of Azar, we don't believe his appointment will mark a change in course in that realm.” Trump’s foc Continue reading >>

Insulin Price Hikes Tell Us A Lot About What's Wrong With Drug Pricing In America

Insulin Price Hikes Tell Us A Lot About What's Wrong With Drug Pricing In America

Ballyscanlon/Getty Images When inventor Frederick Banting discovered insulin in 1923, he refused to put his name on the patent. He felt it was unethical for a doctor to profit off a discovery that would save lives. Banting’s co-inventors, James Collip and Charles Best, sold the insulin patent to the University of Toronto for a mere $1. They also wanted everyone who needed their medication to be able to afford it. Today Banting and colleagues would be spinning in their graves: Their drug, which many of America’s 30 million diabetics rely on, has become the latest poster child for pharmaceutical price gouging. On May 2, the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly raised the prices of its insulin medications, Humalog and Humulin, by 7.8 percent, according to newly obtained records from CNBC’s Meg Tirrell. And Lilly is not acting alone: Sanofi and Novo Nordisk, the only two other companies that manufacture insulin in the US, have been jacking up insulin prices recently too. Patients can now expect to pay upward of $400 per month for the century-old drug. Drug companies use the “cost of innovation” argument to justify the price increases — but critics don’t buy their reasoning, and diabetics who depend on the daily lifesaving medication are livid. In January, patients filed a class action lawsuit accusing the three companies of price fixing. The American Diabetes Association's board of directors has also asked Congress to investigate insulin price increases. While the US represents only 15 percent of the global insulin market, it generates almost half of the pharmaceutical industry’s insulin revenue. According to a recent study in JAMA Internal Medicine, in the 1990s Medicaid paid between $2.36 and $4.43 per unit of insulin; by 2014, those prices more than tripled, de Continue reading >>

Why Are Insulin Prices Rising?

Why Are Insulin Prices Rising?

She drew the life-saving medication into the syringe, just 10 cc of colorless fluid for the everyday low price of -- gulp -- several hundred dollars. Was that a new chemotherapy, specially designed for her tumor? Was it a "specialty drug," to treat her multiple sclerosis? Nope. It was insulin, a drug that has been around for decades. The price of many drugs has been on the rise of late, not just new drugs but many that have been in use for many years. Even the price of some generic drugs is on the rise. In some cases, prices are rising because the number of companies making specific drugs has declined, until there is only one manufacturer left in the market, leading to monopolistic pricing. In other cases, companies have run into problems with their manufacturing processes, causing unexpected shortages. And in infamous cases, greedy CEOs have hiked prices figuring that desperate patients would have little choice but to purchase their products. Then there's the case of insulin. No monopoly issue here -- three companies manufacture insulin in the U.S., not a robust marketplace, but one, it would seem, that should put pressure on producers. No major manufacturing problems, either. There has been a steady supply of insulin on the market for more than a half-century. And there haven't been any insulin company executives I know of who have been hustled in front of grand juries lately. Yet insulin prices are rising to dizzying heights. In 1991, according to a recent study in JAMA, state Medicaid programs typically paid less than $4 for a unit of rapid acting insulin. After accounting for inflation, that price has quintupled in the meantime. What explains the gravity-defying cost of insulin? I am not an expert on pharmaceutical pricing, but a few factors go a long way to explai Continue reading >>

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