Key House oversight panel to investigate rising cost of insulin

Mar 26, 2019
Press Release
The panel, led by U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, to hold first hearing April 2

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), chair of the House oversight panel that’s currently investigating the rising cost of insulin, announced today that her committee will hold its first of two hearings on the skyrocketing cost of the drug next Tuesday, April 2, at 10:30 a.m. ET.

DeGette made the announcement while speaking at a health care policy summit on Tuesday where she told the crowd that her panel will hold two formal hearings this month to determine what Congress can do to make the life-saving drug more accessible to the millions of Americans who rely on it to survive.

“The insulin pricing issue is a microcosm of what’s going on throughout the prescription drug area,” DeGette said. “This is a drug that’s been around for nearly one hundred years but, for some reason, has more than doubled in price over the last decade. In holding these hearings, we want to know what’s going on and what Congress can do to help bring down the cost of this drug for the millions of Americans who need it to survive.”

More than seven million Americans rely on insulin to maintain their blood sugar, but the steadily increasing price of the drug – which has more than doubled in recent years – has made it unaffordable for some patients who are now forced to take drastic steps, such as rationing their medication, in order to survive.

DeGette, who has long been a leading advocate for Americans with diabetes, serves not only as chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations panel, but also as co-chair of the Congressional Diabetes Caucus.

In her role as co-chair of the Diabetes Caucus, DeGette launched a bipartisan inquiry into the rising cost of insulin last year to determine what Congress could do to make it more affordable for consumers.

That inquiry led DeGette to release a bipartisan report in November that contained several policy recommendations for Congress to focus on in trying to combat the rising price of the drug – including, increasing competition among drug manufacturers, creating a standardized system for consumers to appeal an insurer’s decision to deny coverage, and allowing consumers to pay the same price that wholesalers and pharmacies pay for certain drugs.

Earlier this year, just weeks after taking over as the new chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s oversight panel, DeGette sent letters to the heads of Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi – the three top manufactures of insulin in the U.S. – asking them to explain the rapidly increasing cost of insulin and why they are not providing a more affordable treatment to patients in need.

DeGette plans to use the responses she received from those three drug makers as the foundation for the upcoming hearings.

Next Tuesday’s hearing, which will begin at 10:30 a.m. EST, will take place in room 2322 of the Rayburn House Office Building. A full list of the witnesses who will be testifying at the hearing will be released later this week. While a date for the second hearing has not yet been confirmed, it will be in April.

Copies of the letters DeGette sent to the three manufacturers of insulin are available here.

A copy of the bipartisan report DeGette released in Nov. 2018 is available here.