Durbin Highlights Federal Efforts To Address Skyrocketing Cost Of Insulin For Patients

CHICAGO – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today joined doctors and families impacted by diabetes to call for the passage of federal legislation to reduce the price of insulin for patients. Durbin is an original co-sponsor of the Affordable Insulin Now Act, which would cap the monthly cost of insulin at $35 per month for patients. Approximately eight million Americans—a quarter-million in Illinois—rely on insulin to manage their blood sugar levels. However, studies show that more than one-quarter of patients who rely on insulin have been forced to ration their doses due to cost, which can lead to deadly consequences.

“We are in the midst of a prescription drug affordability crisis and millions of patients are suffering because of it,” Durbin said. “Insulin was discovered a century ago—it is unacceptable that people are being forced to ration this life-saving medicine due to the price. As Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I am working on several bipartisan policies to address the problem. And the Senate needs to act now and pass the Affordable Insulin Now Act. This is a necessary action for people struggling to afford insulin that will save lives and money.”

The Affordable Insulin Now Act, introduced by Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA), would require Medicare plans and private group or individual health care plans to cap patients’ out-of-pocket costs for insulin at $35 per month. 

While Illinois is one of only a few states that caps the cost of insulin at $100 per month for certain patients, federal action is needed to cover more Illinois patients with diabetes, and reduce costs further.

When insulin was first invented a century ago, the researchers sold the patent to the University of Toronto for just $1, hoping that the drug would be used to save lives for everyone who needed it.  However, the price of insulin today is the subject of anti-competitive practices and constant price increases. For example, Eli Lilly’s blockbuster insulin Humalog was introduced in 1996 at $21, but today that same vial now costs more than $300.

In 2019, Durbin passed a bipartisan provision to speed up approvals of lower-cost, generic insulin products in order to help reduce costs of the life-saving drug.