Congresswoman Diana DeGette

Representing the First District of Colorado
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DeGette, Pallone demand answers on rising cost of insulin

Jan 30, 2019
Press Release
Lawmakers calling on major U.S. pharmaceutical companies to justify price hike

Washington, DC – Two of the top Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee joined forces today in calling on the heads of three major U.S. pharmaceutical companies to explain the recent skyrocketing cost of insulin.

U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) sent letters to the heads of Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi – three of the top manufactures of insulin in the U.S. – asking them to explain the rapidly increasing cost drug; and why they are not providing a more affordable treatment to patients in need. 

“When patients go without insulin—or ration their doses—there can be tragic consequences,” the lawmakers wrote. “News reports have highlighted stories of diabetics who have died because they could not afford insulin.  No American should suffer because they could not afford their insulin. As one of the few manufacturers of insulin in the United States, your company is well-suited to shed light on these issues and offer potential solutions.” 

Approximately 30 million Americans are currently living with diabetes, with an additional 1.5 million Americans being diagnosed each year. The staggering number of people affected by the disease in the U.S. has made it the seventh leading cause of death nationwide.

Yet, despite being discovered almost 100 years ago, the price of insulin – which is critical to the treatment of diabetes – continues to rise, and is now putting the lifesaving treatment out of reach for many patients who need it.

In addition to asking the companies to explain the rising cost of the drug, DeGette, who co-chairs the Congressional Diabetes Caucus and is Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations panel, and Pallone, who chairs the full committee, requested that each of the manufactures provide documents and answer questions to explain:

  • The average price of each of the companies’ insulin products for the last 10 years as well as an explanation of factors that prompted any price increases;
  • The net profit of the companies’ insulin products each year for the last 10 years;
  • A list of changes or modifications, if any, to the companies’ insulin products over the last 10 years;
  • An explanation of the root causes of rising prices of insulin;
  • An explanation of the barriers to lowering insulin prices and making insulin more affordable;
  • Whether any of the companies have entered into any agreements in the last 10 years that delay, limit, or prevent the availability of generic insulin; and, 
  • How the companies expect the overall market price of insulin to change in the next five years.

The lawmakers gave the companies until February 13 to respond.

A copy of their letter is available HERE.