December 2, 2023

In this photo illustration, an insulin pen made by Novo Nordisk is displayed in Miami, Florida on March 14, 2023.

Joe Raeder | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Controlling 90% of the world’s top three pharmaceutical executives insulin Market will testify before the Senate Health Committee on lowering the price of its diabetes drug on May 10, the panel chairs Sen. Bernie Sanders said Friday.

The companies — Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi — announced in March that they would cut the price of the most widely used insulin product by 70% or more .

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On Friday, Sanders called it an important step forward, the result of “public anger and a strong grassroots effort.”

But the Vermont independent added that Congress must ensure everyone can afford insulin, whose price has risen more than 1,000 percent since 1996.

“However, we must ensure that these price reductions are implemented in a way that gives every American affordable access to the insulin they need,” Sanders said in a statement announcing Lilly CEO David Ricks’ scheduled testimony said Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson and Novo Nordisk CEO Lars Fruergaard Jorgensen.

Sanders noted that versions of the insulin from these companies cost at least $275 before the price cuts were announced.

Lilly declined to comment when asked about the scheduled hearing. A Sanofi spokesman said the company supports efforts to reduce costs and believes other parts of the health care system need to do more to help patients. Novo Nordisk said its chief executive looked forward to “productive and collaborative discussions on this important issue”.

Top three pharmacy benefit managers CVS Healthquick script and best prescription drug Also testified, according to Sanders’ office. The executives are David Joyner, president of pharmacy services at CVS Health; Adam Kautzner, president of Express Scripts; and Heather Cianfrocco, CEO of Optum Rx.

Pharmacy benefit managers are middlemen who negotiate drug prices with manufacturers on behalf of health insurance plans. PBMs have been criticized for allegedly jacking up drug prices and not passing on to consumers all the discounts they negotiated.

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The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 17 percent of patients using insulin in 2021 will have to dose the drug due to high costs.

About 19 percent of insulin users with private insurance were prescribed the drug, compared with 29 percent of uninsured insulin users, according to HHS data.

The drugmaker’s decision to cut insulin prices comes a month after President Joe Biden called on Congress in his State of the Union address to cap insulin prices at $35 a month.

Biden’s Lower Inflation Act imposed a cap on people enrolled in Medicare, the government-run health insurance program primarily for seniors, but the law excludes people with private insurance.

According to HHS, more than 2 million diabetics who take insulin have private insurance.

About 150,000 patients who take insulin are uninsured, the department said.

On Thursday, two senators, Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, introduced bipartisan legislation that would require private health insurance to cap the price of one of each insulin type and dosage form. At $35 per month. The bill includes other measures to lower prices.

Insulin types include rapid-acting, short-acting, intermediate-acting, and long-acting, as well as premixed insulins. Dosage forms include vials, pens, and inhalers.