Durbin: We Must Hold Big Pharma Accountable For High Prices Of Insulin

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today on the Senate floor slammed the pharmaceutical manufacturers of insulin for exorbitant price increases of more than 600 percent over the past two decades in the United States.  Durbin met with Illinois youth members of JDRF (formerly known as Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) today to hear their stories about dealing with the skyrocketing prices of this life-saving drug, and the importance of continuing to fund medical research into Type 1 Diabetes.  Durbin urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to end the legislative graveyard and bring bills to the floor that can help these kids and their families afford insulin and other prescription drugs Americans depend on.  

“It’s time for us to stand up for these families and their kids, to put the money into medical research, and to tell Pharma once and for all, ‘Enough is enough. What you're doing in terms of increasing the cost of it for these families is unacceptable and unconscionable,’” Durbin said.

Durbin shared stories of JDRF members from Deerfield, Illinois, and Jerseyville, Illinois, on the floor. 

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here for TV Stations.

Photos of Durbin’s meeting with youth members of JDRF are available here.

In order to deter Big Pharma’s greed and price-gouging, Durbin introduced the Forcing Limits on Abusive and Tumultuous Prices (FLAT) Prices Act.  The FLAT Prices Actwould 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. 

The United States represents only 15 percent of the global insulin market, yet generates nearly half of pharma’s revenue on insulin.  Lantus, a popular long-acting insulin, cost $35 when it was first introduced in 2001.  Within the past few years, the price of Lantus vial has skyrocketed to more than $372, while that same exact drug was sold in France for $46, and $67 in Canada. 

The manufacturer of Lantus insulin, Sanofi, has obtained 45 follow-on patents after FDA approval of the insulin, which have delayed generic competition.  To prevent these patent abuses, Durbin also introduced a bipartisan bill to tackle the pharmaceutical industry’s practice of gaming the patent system to extend monopolies on lifesaving drugs. The Reforming Evergreening and Manipulation that Extends Drug Years (REMEDY) Act, would lower prescription drug prices and promote competition by removing barriers to FDA approval for lower-cost generic drugs.