Casten Holds Panel Discussion on Rising Costs of Insulin Following Report on How the High Price is Hurting the 6th District

June 14, 2019
Press Release

Wheaton, IL – Following a report on the high price of insulin and how it is impacting thousands of patients and their families in the 6th District of Illinois, U.S. Representatives Sean Casten (IL-06) and local policy experts held a panel discussion focused on the increasing prices.

Prescription drug costs continue to rise year after year and the effects of these astronomical costs are uniquely felt by the more than 30 million people in the United States who have diabetes. In the 6th District alone, there are approximately 15,000 Medicare beneficiaries who have been diagnosed with diabetes.

The panel consisted of Congressman Sean Casten; Karen Ayala, Executive Director, DuPage Co Health; Kara Murphy, President, DuPage Health Coalition; Kenneth Pacheco, Program Manager, 340B and Lab Access Community Health Network; Emilija Irwin, Type I Diabetic and rising Senior at DGN; Courtney Hedderman, Associate State Director Advocacy & Outreach, AARP; and Dr. Douglas Ambler, MD, Northwest Medicine Regional Medical Group.

Casten said, “Patients with diabetes rely on prescription drugs like insulin to keep them alive. Unfortunately, for thousands of patients in my own District, the price of insulin continues to skyrocket, leaving many without the ability to afford the drugs they must rely upon. Today’s panel provided an informed discussion with real experts about these rising costs. There is bipartisan agreement here, and people are counting on their government to deliver real relief.”

Key highlights from the report:

  • There are approximately 15,000 Medicare enrollees in the District who have been diagnosed with diabetes. The 50 most popular brand-name diabetes medications used by these beneficiaries are available at significantly lower prices in other countries.
    • For example, the cost of these drugs to the Medicare program in the district are 4.5 times the cost in Australia,
    • 3.5 times the cost in the United Kingdom,
    • and 2.8 times the cost in Canada.
  • The report estimates there are 38,000 uninsured residents in the District. These patients often bear the entire burden of high prescription drug prices and pay significantly more than patients pay overseas for the same drugs. This report finds that uninsured diabetes patients in the District who purchase Novolog Flexpen—a popular brand of insulin:
    • Pay on average 21 times more than they would in Australia,
    • 14 times more than they would in the United Kingdom,
    • and 12 times more than they would in Canada.

The report concluded by saying:

“The high prices of prescription diabetes drugs in the United States place a significant economic burden on both taxpayers and patients, including Medicare beneficiaries and uninsured patients in the 6th Congressional District of Illinois.  Substantial savings could be realized if Medicare and uninsured patients paid the same prices that patients overseas pay for their drugs.”

Download the full report here.