There's a monopoly on insulin

Insulin used to be dirt cheap. Now only 3 companies produce the drug and its price has skyrocketed.

Posted by Tarbell on Thursday, January 24, 2019

Transcript

Here’s a startling fact: almost one of every three Americans now has diabetes or prediabetes. Thirty million Americans are already diabetic, and many of them have to use insulin to control their blood sugar levels.

That’s music to the ears of the few companies that make insulin. Not only are they getting more and more customers every year, they’ve been jacking up the price of insulin year in and year out for no reason other than to supercharge their profits.

In 2012, the price of an average amount of insulin was a little more than $2,800 a year.

By 2016, the price had doubled to more than $5,700 a year.

When you look a little further, to 2002, you find that the price has more than tripled.

Keep in mind that insulin has been used to treat diabetes for almost 100 years, and it used to be dirt cheap. In fact, the three doctors who discovered insulin in 1923 sold their intellectual property rights for just $1 each. That’s the equivalent of $14 today.

But before long, Big Pharma took over.

Eli Lily, Sanofi and Novo Nordisk make most of the world’s insulin. Late last year, the Minnesota Attorney General filed a lawsuit accusing those companies of deceptively raising prices for insulin.

One of the reasons the companies can get away with jacking up the price is that they are constantly tweaking the way they make insulin to extend their patents. They’ve been doing this for decades. That’s why insulin is not available as a generic.

To make matters worse, insurance companies and pharmacy benefit management companies get between you and your pharmacist in ways that make insulin increasingly unaffordable.

There are bills before Congress that would bring down the price of insulin and other drugs, but you can bet your bottom dollar that Big Pharma will spend boatloads of your money to keep them from passing.

That should make you mad enough to call your Congressman [person]. I hope you will.