Lawmakers try to cap insulin prices with new bill

In the last decade, insulin prices have skyrocketed. In some cases, the cost of insulin has tripled.  

RHODE ISLAND (WLNE) – In the last decade, insulin prices have skyrocketed. In some cases, the cost of insulin has tripled.

State lawmakers are trying to protect diabetic patients from those exorbitant prices.

House Speaker Pro Tempore Brian Kennedy (D – District 38) introduced a bill that would cap insulin prices at $100 per 30 day supply.

“We need to get this under control,” said Kennedy. “[Drug manufacturers] are definitely driving the cost up of this prescription drug way beyond what it should be.”

For Diedra Waxman of Newton, Mass., her insulin costs $1,400 a month. Medicare covers half the bill but she still pays hundreds out of pocket for a drug that used to be reasonably priced. In fact, insulin was patented for just $1.

“This costs maybe $8 to get this all made, and costs me about $700,” said Waxman.

Rep. Kennedy is tired of seeing diabetic patients have to choose between paying for groceries or insulin.

“That’s the real sad thing,” said Kennedy.

Prices have gotten so high that some patients ration their insulin, which can result in accidental death.

Others, like Waxman, drive up to Canada for insulin where prices are much lower.

“Available without a prescription [in Canada] is about 1/10 the price,” said Waxman.

The bill had its committee hearing Wednesday night.

“It’s estimated that we have about 83,000 people in Rhode Island who are either dealing with diabetes or pre-diabetes issues,” said Kennedy. “I think this is something we need to do.”

Some health insurers who testified at the hearing said they are concerned they will end up absorbing the costs from the manufacturer and then will ultimately have to raise their rates to the consumer.

Kennedy countered by saying a similar bill passed in Colorado and there has not been an issue there.


Categories: News, Politics, Rhode Island