Lawmakers look to lower price of insulin

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ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Governor JB Pritzker joined state lawmakers in supporting legislation to lower insulin costs in Illinois which have skyrocketed in recent years.

“Diabetes affects people from all walks of life, but as prices have skyrocketed, more and more insulin users have been forced to find their medication by substituting lower quality products, or seek options out of the country, or even ration their supply – some have died doing so,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “As we work to address the high cost of prescription drug (sic) that are burdening millions all across our state, this legislation is an essential step in the right direction toward fulfilling our promise to put state government back on the side of working families.”

Senate Bill 667 would make Illinois the second state in the nation to set a cap on insulin payments, limiting patients’ out-of-pocket costs at $100 for a 30-day supply.

Since the turn of the century, insulin costs have skyrocketed. In 2001, vials of Sanofi’s Lantus brand cost $35 a vial and Novo Nordisk’s Novolog cost $40. In 2018, those costs jumped over 600% to $270 and $289, according to data from IBM Watson Health. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, approximately 1.3 million adults in Illinois have diabetes, which is 12.5% of the state’s population.

“Out of control corporate greed has driven up insulin costs to the point where people are forced to make impossible decisions. No one should be forced to choose between medication or groceries,” said Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), the Senate sponsor of the measure. “We have a responsibility to take action on this issue immediately and prioritize the well-being of the people of Illinois over the profits of pharmaceutical companies.”

“Lifesaving medicines shouldn’t be a privilege for the people who can afford them. They need to be guaranteed to everyone,” said Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago), the House sponsor of the measure. “Our work here is a first step toward making sure that people with diabetes don’t suffer needlessly because of the greed and price-gouging of drug makers. We stand with the diabetes community in demanding insulin for all Illinoisans.”

“AARP Illinois supports this measure on behalf of our 1.7 million members, many of whom have told us about the hardships they face in paying for their prescription drugs,” said Bob Gallo, state director of AARP Illinois. “We commend Governor Pritzker, Senator Manar, Representative Guzzardi, and other legislators for recognizing that everyday Illinois residents are having to make heartbreaking choices about whether to pay for medicine or other basic necessities with their fixed incomes. And we hope that SB 667 will be a stepping stone to getting further reforms that will lower the cost of prescription drugs for everyone.”

The bill was originally filed in late May and will be reintroduced during the veto session.

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