Survey of 300+ Pharmacies Found Patients Often Cannot Access Cheaper Generic Insulin; Eli Lilly’s Generic Insulin Costs Almost Four Times More than $25 Target Price
Senator Warnock has championed affordable access to insulin since coming to the Senate, including successfully passing his $35 insulin cost cap for Medicare recipients into law, and leading the bipartisan effort to cap insulin at $35 a month for everyone
Click HERE to read the report
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) released a new investigative report highlighting how in spite of recent efforts by drug manufacturers and insurers to reduce insulin costs, many insulin users still don’t have affordable access to the life-saving drug. The report, titled Unaffordable Insulin: Uninsured Americans Still Face High Costs at the Pharmacy Counter for Eli Lilly’s Authorized Generic,surveyed more than 300 pharmacies around the country to review the cost and availability of Eli Lilly’s authorized generic Insulin Lispro, which it announced would cost $25 per vial – and found that uninsured Americans still face significant challenges to access affordable, generic insulin. The generic insulin cost almost four times as much as Lilly’s $25 target price – and almost half of pharmacies did not have the lower-priced generic in stock.
“Manufacturers and insurers have taken steps to make insulin more affordable, but this is not enough to ensure no one has to sacrifice their rent or their groceries to afford the insulin they need to live,” said Senator Reverend Warnock. “I’m proud to work with my friend, Senator Warren, on this important report which makes clear that Congress must do more–and we can start by capping insulin costs at $35 a month for everyone.”
“No American should ever be forced to choose between life-saving medication, like insulin, and their ability to pay for food, shelter, and their everyday needs,” said Senator Warren. “My new report confirms that far too many uninsured Americans cannot access or cannot afford to pay astronomical prices for life-saving generic insulin – lawmakers need to step up and take action.”
“No report should be necessary to persuade Congress that insulin must be made more affordable, but this document provides irrefutable proof,” said Senator Blumenthal. “Congress must heed this call to action—enacting price caps for all patients and other reforms. Low cost insulin can be matter of life and death.”
The senators’ investigation comes after Eli Lilly’s announcement. Its key findings include:
- Patients still face significant problems obtaining affordable Insulin Lispro. Patients often do not have ready access to Lispro, the cheaper generic insulin. Nearly half – 43% – of surveyed pharmacies reported that they did not stock the inexpensive, generic insulin. In contrast, 79% reported that they stocked the more expensive brand name, Humalog.
- Many patients are still forced to pay high prices for insulin. The average Lispro price for uninsured patients at surveyed pharmacies was $97.51 – nearly four times as high as the $25 price point that Eli Lilly promised for its authorized generic. Seven pharmacies charged $200 or more, and two sold Lispro for over $300.
- Patients must unravel a confusing thicket of coupons, competing generic drugs, and misleading information to get their insulin. In many cases, unless patients are explicitly asking about the drug, they may not learn about the availability of lispro, limiting the benefit of announced price cuts.
Senator Warnock has championed affordable access to insulin since coming to the Senate. In February 2022, the Senator introduced the Affordable Insulin Now Act of 2022, which would cap the out-of-pocket cost of insulin at $35 for insulin users on private insurance and Medicare plans. The Senator successfully built critical support for the legislation, including garnering co-sponsorships from a majority of Senate Democrats as well as securing the bill’s bipartisan passage through the House of Representatives. Additionally, the Senator secured major endorsements for his legislation from important health care and diabetes advocacy organizations, including the American Diabetes Association. Later that year, the Senator Warnock successfully secured a provision of his legislation—a $35 out-of-pocket cost cap for Medicare recipients—in the Inflation Reduction Act, which was signed into law in August 2022. In spring 2023, Senator Warnock joined Senator Kennedy to reintroduced legislation to cap insulin at $35 for privately-insured and uninsured insulin users. Thanks to the Senator’s leadership, the universal insulin cost cap is in a strong position to be included in a bipartisan prescription drug pricing bill expected to come to the Senate floor this month.