Senators question drugmakers over rising insulin prices

Two U.S. senators launched a bipartisan investigation into rising insulin prices on Feb. 22, sending letters to the drug’s top three manufacturers seeking information about why costs have risen so sharply in recent years.

Similar price increases have been seen from all three manufacturers: Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi. According to the letters, the per-dose price of Eli Lilly’s Humalog jumped from $35 in 2001 to $235 in 2015—a 585 percent increase.

“We are concerned that the substantial increases in the price of insulin over the past several years will continue their upward drive and pose increasingly severe hardships not only on patients that require access to the drug in order to stay alive but also on the taxpayer,” wrote Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a ranking member of the committee, according to Reuters.

A recent survey study found one-quarter of diabetics have rationed their insulin use due to cost concerns—a strategy that has contributed to patient deaths in some cases.

The senators’ letters to the companies sought information on how list prices are determined, as well as the process used to determine net prices after negotiations with insurers and pharmacy benefit managers. They also asked about revenues and gross margins from sales, along with costs associated with production and research and development.

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