Merkley Joins Push to Crack Down on Pharmaceutical Greed, Cap Price of Insulin

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley joined colleagues in both chambers of Congress to introduce bicameral legislation that would cap the list price of insulin at no more than $20 per vial. The Insulin for All Act of 2023 would substantially reduce the cost of this lifesaving drug for more than 7 million people who use insulin across the United States and the 1.3 million Americans who were forced to ration insulin last year.

“Big Pharma continues to rake in record profits by gouging patients on insulin prices,” said Merkley. “Unaffordable high prices are forcing patients to ration their insulin, leading to dire health consequences – heart attacks, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, foot disease and amputations, even death. It’s tragic, it’s unacceptable, and it’s time to end this rip-off. No one should have to go bankrupt just to afford the daily medication they need to stay healthy. It’s time to put people above profits, and tell the big drug companies that their days extorting Americans who need insulin to survive are over.”

While Eli Lilly and Company, after significant public pressure, recently announced a 70 percent price cut for Humalog, the company has not yet moved to reduce the price of other insulin products. Novo Nordisk and Sanofi – which along with Eli Lilly make up 90 percent of the insulin market in the U.S. – have not made any commitment to lower their prices at all. When Eli Lilly first launched Humalog in 1996, it set the price close to $20.

While researchers estimate that a vial of insulin costs just $8 to manufacture, the price of insulin has gone up by over 1,000 percent since 1996. Sanofi’s Lantus costs $292 per vial. Novo Nordisk’s Novolog is listed at $289. Eli Lilly’s Lyumjev can be purchased for $275. People with diabetes face nearly $17,000 per year in medical expenses, more than half of which is directly attributable to their diabetes, and health care for people with diabetes accounts for one in four health care dollars in the U.S.

Senator Merkley has spent years fighting to end price gouging for insulin and other prescription drugs by leading letters to the Department of Health and Human Services, putting forth resolutions, and introducing the End Price Gouging for Medications Act.

The Insulin for All Act of 2023 is led by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Representative Cori Bush (D-MO-01) and cosponsored by Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA), and Representatives Jamaal Bowman (D-NY-16), Yvette Clarke (D-NY-09), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY-14), Jesús G. “Chuy” García (D-IL-04), Sylvia Garcia (D-TX-29), Al Green (D-TX-09), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA-07), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-07), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI-12).

The Insulin for All Act of 2023 also garnered the support of more than 70 major organizations, including: T1International, The Insulin Initiative, The Diabetes Link, Mutual Aid Diabetes, Social Security Works, Public Citizen, Center for Popular Democracy, People’s Action, American Federation of Teachers, American Medical Student Association, Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, National Domestic Workers Alliance, United Mine Workers of America, Center for Medicare Advocacy, Doctors for America, Indivisible, MoveOn, and more.

Bill text can be found here.
Bill summary can be found here.