Durbin Statement On Announcement By Eli Lilly To Sell Lower Cost, Generic Insulin

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today released the following statement after Eli Lilly announced it would be selling a less expensive, generic version of its rapid-acting insulin, Humalog.  Humalog was introduced in 1996 and cost $21, but today that same vial now costs $329. 

“Humalog can cost as little as $38 in Canada and yet Americans are charged up to $329.  Now Eli Lilly is lowering the price in the U.S. for selected customers to $140.  Charging Americans four times what Canadians pay for the same drug hardly merits an outpouring of national gratitude to Eli Lilly.”

Last week, Durbin announced a new series of awards that he will be presenting regularly to the most egregious cases of pharmaceutical greed.  The first “Pharma Fleece Award” was given to Eli Lilly – along with Novo Nordisk and Sanofi – the three pharmaceutical companies that manufacture insulin, which has experienced a price increase of more than 600 percent over the past two decades in the United States. 

Last week, Durbin, along with Senators Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Tina Smith (D-MN) urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to speed up approvals of lower-cost, generic insulin products in order to help lower costs of the life-saving drug.  In a letter to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, the Senators called for the agency to amend recently issued guidance that poses unreasonable approval delays for new, lower-cost insulin competitor products—and may effectively freeze review of lower-cost competitor insulin products, potentially blocking  approval of “generic” or “biosimilar” insulin for two years.

In order to deter Big Pharma’s greed and price-gouging, Durbin introduced the Forcing Limits on Abusive and Tumultuous Prices (FLAT) Prices Act last month.  The FLAT Prices Act would reduce the FDA-granted exclusivity period for a drug whose price increases more than 10 percent in a year, or similar amounts over a multi-year period.  Drug manufacturers would be required to self-report their price spikes to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and they would have the opportunity to provide an appeal to justify such a price increase.  Failure to report such a price hike would incur additional reductions in market exclusivity.