Insulin prices nearly doubled in 5 years, report says

  • April 25, 2019

Looking at health insurance claims from 13,800 to 16,200 people with Type 1 diabetes who use employer-sponsored health insurance, researchers found insulin spending per person in the U.S. was $5,700 in 2016, a 97% increase from $2,900 in 2012.  The average annual cost for individuals to manage their diabetes reached $18,500 in 2016, up from about $12,500 in 2012, largely due to increases in insulin prices.

Examining the prices for every insulin product on the market between 2012 and 2016, researchers also found prices increased in all cases with a median price increase of 92%.  Use of insulin rose about 3% over the time period examined.  “We are frequently told that high drug prices are justifiable in order to promote innovative new cures, but the cost of insulin — a longstanding therapy that 1.25 million Americans with Type 1 diabetes rely on to live — has nearly doubled in the last five (5) years, despite very little change in the underlying product,” Niall Brennan, CEO of HCCI, said in a statement.

The most common delivery method of insulin remains vials administered with a syringe (53%), which is a drop from $61 in 2012.  Prefilled insulin pens are gaining popularity, increasing from 38% of use in 2012 to 46% in 2016.  The report’s finding echo concerns held by medical groups and lawmakers who have sounded alarms about the impact of rising insulin prices on patients.  Minnesota’s Attorneys General (AG) filed law suits against several insulin makers, alleging price gouging of diabetic patients who depend on the medication.

The American Medical Association (AMA) urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to monitor insulin pricing and market competition to keep the drug affordable.  In a letter to FTC Chairman Joseph Simons, the physician group suggested the FTC recommend enforcement action against manufacturers that engage in anticompetitive actions to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The Congressional Diabetes Caucus issued a report on the rising cost of insulin in 2018, identifying 11 policy recommendations that could bring down prices, such as moving toward more value-based contracts, promoting price transparency and allowing generic drug makers to produce older, off-patient insulin formulas and capping out-of-pocket costs for patients who have chronic diseases like diabetes.

REFERENCE:  Fierce HealthCare; 23 JAN 2019; Tina Reed

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