The Trump administration’s outreach to insulin manufacturers and health insurers to reduce the price of insulin for more than 3.3 million Medicare recipients is a terrific first step in addressing the rising cost of prescription drugs.
Recent studies show insulin prices — which roughly doubled to about $450 a month in 2016 from around $234 a month in 2012 — are a serious problem for many.
Yale researchers reported in 2018 that a quarter of patients with Type 1 or 2 diabetes were rationing their insulin in response to high costs. They were using less insulin than their doctors prescribed and a third of them were not even telling their health care providers they were doing this. And those who were rationing were much more likely to be suffering high glycemic levels — meaning their blood-sugar readings were out of control, which can lead to complications such as kidney failure, heart disease, stroke, blindness and lower-limb amputations.
It’s time for Congress to stop merely holding hearings on the price of insulin and other lifesaving drugs and pass legislation. That might be the only way to get the pharmaceutical and insurance industries to agree to a solution that helps all Americans who need such drugs to survive. The Trump administration’s Medicare pilot program for insulin could serve as the model for such reform.