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Three largest insulin manufacturers cap cost at $35 for most users

Earlier this year, President Biden capped insulin costs for seniors on Medicare at $35. Now, the private sector is following suit.

DAVENPORT, Iowa — The three largest insulin manufacturers, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi who supply 90% of the U.S. Insulin market, all have capped prices of Insulin to $35 for most users. 

Eli Lilly was the first to do so on March 1st, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi, falling suit this week. 

"Insulin cost just $10 a vial to make," White House Health Policy Expert Christen Young said. "It's a drug that's been around for 100 years, and yet we have seen a pattern of drug makers driving their prices up higher and higher, and we're glad to see that turning around and coming to an end."

Earlier this year, President Biden capped insulin costs for seniors on Medicare at $35. He now is calling for Congress to apply the cap to all private insurance companies, so every single insulin user would be covered. 

"We are thrilled to see the private sector responding to the President's call to action," Young said.

These prices will be felt, and welcome, in the Quad Cities. Diabetes Specialist Danits Harrison works at a clinic in Davenport and said her patients are ecstatic.

"Insulin is a miracle drug for people with diabetes because it saves lives every day," Harrison said. "And without this cap, people who are paying $700 for a box of insulin that may not even last a month, and they may need two or three boxes."

According to the American Diabetes Association, the average price of insulin nearly tripled between 2002 and 2013 and that trend has only continued.

"No one should lay in bed at night wondering how they're going to afford life-saving medication for them or their children," Young said. "It's completely unacceptable in the wealthiest country on earth that we see this sort of inequitable access to critical medications."

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 16.5% of U.S. insulin users ration it because of cost. There are horror stories of people skipping days or sharing vials with family members because they can't afford it, and they end up in the hospital.

In terms of when these caps are going to take effect, it varies per company. Eli Lilly's cap will begin in May, while Novo Nordisk and Sanofi's will begin on Jan. 1, 2024.

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