|Illustration by Sarah Grillo, Axios|
To claim that insulin prices are outrageous isn't an overstatement, reports Bob Herman of Axios. "These are the per-vial list prices for common insulin brands, according to Elsevier's Gold Standard Drug Database: Novo Nordisk's Novolog: $289 -- Eli Lilly's Humalog: $275 -- Sanofi's Lantus: $270."
When individuals don't have insurance, purchasing it isn't affordable, which has led to deadly outcomes. Levinson reports: "In 2017, a 26-year-old Minnesota man died after rationing his insulin. He did so because he was no longer covered by his mother's plan, and his job didn't offer insurance. Without coverage, he faced paying up to $1,300 for the drug, CBS News reported. His mother thought he could budget his remaining supply and pay for a new prescription when he could."
In 2019, Colorado capped a 30-day supply of insulin with a $100 co-pay. "California is the latest to adopt insulin co-pay price caps. . . . (that) if signed into law, would limit insulin costs at $35 for a monthly supply," Levinson adds. But there is fear that the cap is not enough. "California is going beyond price caps to tackle insulin prices with an ambitious plan to produce the drug itself. Earlier this year, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that the state is partnering with drug manufacturer Civica to produce $30 insulin vials and $55 packs of prefilled insulin injection pens."
In the past, other states have manufactured their own drugs, "From 1970 to the late 1990s, the Michigan Department of Public Health manufactured an anthrax vaccine," Levinson reports. "More than 20 years later, state lawmakers are revisiting public production, this time for insulin. If passed, a bill introduced in July would make $150 million available for Michigan to partner with private organizations to establish an insulin manufacturing facility. . . . Illinois and New York have also considered legislation to encourage affordable drug manufacturing. The bills aim to 'increase competition, lower prices and address shortages in the market for generic prescription drugs.'"