Cap on insulin prices added to ‘Build Back Better’ bill

Photo (c) kemalbas - Getty Images

The House has already passed the measure

Diabetics who depend on life-saving insulin are paying an ever-increasing price for the drug, and that problem has finally gotten the attention of politicians. Democrats have added a provision to a $2 trillion social spending bill that would place caps on insulin prices.

"If you're one of those Americans that are paying too much for insulin, my ‘Build Back Better' plan is going to change that because we're going to guarantee you pay no more than $35 a month," President Biden said after the House added the cap to the bill.

According to GoodRx, the cost of insulin rose by 47% between 2014 and 2019. However, prices have declined by 6% in the last 12 months. 

Patients who need the daily injections and pills often express frustration. While reviewing Walgreens, Luke, of Lakeville, Minn., said insulin is not only expensive but sometimes hard to get for his daughter, who has diabetes.

“We waited over 2 weeks for them to refill her prescription,” Luke wrote in a ConsumerAffairs post. “During this time she ran out. I had to go to 2 different pharmacies for emergency vials as a partial fill, 2nd time they charged me the $50 co-pay.”

Outlook uncertain

The Washington Post reports that 19 Senate Republicans have signaled support for legislation to lower drug costs, but support for Biden’s bill capping insulin costs is not guaranteed. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has told his caucus to oppose the spending measure.

The Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing (CSRxP) supports the caps on the price of insulin and said House passage of the legislation last week is a step in the right direction.

“As this legislation moves to the Senate, CSRxP encourages lawmakers to remain focused on advancing solutions that will lower prescription drug prices by holding Big Pharma accountable and reject pharma-backed proposals, like a ban on rebates, that would hike seniors’ premiums and boost drug companies’ profits,” said CSRxP executive director Lauren Aronson.

Insulin was developed as a diabetes drug 100 years ago and hasn’t changed much during that time. Insulin drugs are administered to some patients with Type 1 diabetes because their bodies don’t produce enough on their own.

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