Biparty senators introduce bill to cap insulin costs

A bipartisan pair of state senators on Monday introduced legislation to cap the prices that health insurers can charge people with diabetes for their insulin.

Senate Bill 220, if passed, would prohibit insurers from charging more than $ 35 for a 30-day supply of insulin. The bill, under 100 words, could save thousands of dollars each year for some of the one million people with diabetes in Ohio who depend on insulin to survive and manage their blood sugar.

Costs vary widely for insulin depending on health insurance. A patient on Lantus, a brand of insulin, could pay between $ 400 and $ 500 a month, according to Antonio Ciaccia, CEO of 46Brooklyn, which tracks drug prices. Similar drugs like Novolog or Humalog cost from $ 300 to $ 500 per month.

2019 research in the Journal of American Medicine found that insulin costs had tripled over the previous decade and out-of-pocket expenses had doubled. As a result, one in four diabetics sampled reported underusing insulin – a dangerous practice.

“Insulin is an essential life-saving drug, and most patients cannot act as price-sensitive buyers,” the researchers wrote. “Regulators and the medical community need to step in to make sure insulin is available to patients who need it. “

Senators Hearcel Craig, D-Columbus, and Nathan Manning, R-North Ridgeville, introduced SB 220. Craig declined an interview but released a statement through a spokesperson.

“Right now, too many Ohioans are ratifying their insulin to save money, a practice that can be fatal. Capping the cost of insulin at $ 35 for a thirty-day supply helps ensure they can afford this essential drug, ”Craig said in a statement.

House Democrats presented a similar version of the proposal in the previous legislative session, which stagnated after a single hearing in the Republican-controlled House health committee. The sponsorship of Manning, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, likely gives the bill a better chance in the Qualified Republican Senate. Manning, through an assistant, deferred his comment to Craig.

Lawmakers are expected to meet again in September.

Allegations of irregularities show the high costs of insulin. In 2019, Heritage Pharmaceuticals paid a fine of $ 7 million as part of a deal with the US Department of Justice after being charged with price fixing and bid-rigging around Glyburide, an anti-cancer drug. diabetes. Reuters reported last month that a judge had dismissed a motion to dismiss a 2017 lawsuit against drugmakers and pharmacy benefit managers, alleging that the prices of insulin drugs had been cut. inflated by bribes, in the form of rebates and administrative fees, paid by drug makers to PBMs in exchange for favorable placement on PBM drug formulas.

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