A Congressional Hearing Focuses on Insulin Pricing

-Craig Idlebrook

Today, a congressional hearing was held by the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on Energy and Commerce specifically on insulin pricing.

The hearing, “Priced Out of a Lifesaving Drug: The Human Impact of Rising Insulin Costs,” was the first held this congressional session to specifically focus on the issue of the rapid increase in the price of insulin.

Witnesses invited to testify include some of the most influential stakeholders in the diabetes communities, including Dr. William T. Cefalu, Chief Scientific, Medical & Mission Officer, American Diabetes Association (ADA); Christel Marchand Aprigliano, Chief Executive Officer, Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition; and Aaron J. Kowalski, Ph.D., Chief Mission Officer, JDRF.

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Here are some key moments from the hearing as live-tweeted from the T1D Exchange Twitter account:

In many ways, this hearing was meant to define the problem of runaway insulin prices and put those issues on the official record. The same subcommittee is planning a hearing in a week’s time with executives from the three major insulin makers and others who influence the price of insulin to ask for an accounting for why the price of insulin is so high.

This congressional session, there have been several key hearings on rapid increases in drug prices, and the subject of insulin pricing has often been a key point in these hearings. A February 26th Senate Finance Committee hearing asked seven CEOs from leading pharmaceutical companies, including outgoing Sanofi CEO Olivier Brandicourt, to justify their price increases. Earlier in the year, a House Oversight Committee hearing on drug pricing included emotional testimony from drug pricing advocates, including that of Antroinette Worsham, a mother who lost her daughter to insulin rationing due to cost.

There have been several pieces of legislation introduced to address the high cost of insulin and other drugs, but it remains to be seen which might pass Congress and be signed into law. In addition, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has proposed a new rule to encourage drug manufacturers to pass drug pricing rebates directly to consumers at the point of sale.



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