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Senior US senator calls on insulin manufacturers to justify high prices Posted 25/08/2017

Senator Amy Klobuchar, senior senator from Minnesota, has written to three major diabetes drug manufacturers asking them to justify recent price hikes, which are placing increasing pressure on patients in the US.

The cost of insulin has more than tripled in the past 10 years, prompting Senator Klobuchar to write to the CEOs of Novo Nordisk, Sanofi and Eli Lilly – three major insulin manufacturers – to press for action on high insulin prices.

These companies have all increased the list prices of their insulin, yet with no evidence of increased production costs. Senator Klobuchar suggests this is likely due to a lack of competition and wrote to the companies asking for an explanation for the high price rises.

The Senator indicated raising prices is a way of avoiding competition by shifting the cost of insulin to patients, and suggests anticompetitive conduct could be leading to price increases that are in many cases over 100%. 

From 2010 to 2015 for example, the price of Novo Nordisk’s long-acting insulin Levemir increased by 16%. However, the price of Sanofi’s Lantus went up by 168%, while Eli Lilly’s insulin analogue Humulin R U-500 rose by an astounding 325%.

Senator Klobuchar asked the companies to take ‘immediate steps’ to lessen the burden on patients and reminded them about compliance with antitrust laws, finally requesting written explanation for their continued price increases.

The Senator has previously been at the forefront of efforts to protect patients and lower drug costs, including introducing the Preserve Access to Affordable Generics Act to limit anticompetitive pay-offs to generic drugmakers from brand-name drug companies, and the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act, which would allow Medicare to negotiate prices for prescription drugs.

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Source: US Senate

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