Addressing insulin price spikes will require supply chain reform



Although list prices remain an easy target when discussing spikes in insulin prices, reforms are needed across the supply chain for the problem to be fully resolved, panelists said at a House Committee on Energy & Commerce hearing on insulin affordability.

Alvin C. Powers, MD, Division Director, Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology, & Metabolism; Professor of Medicine; Joe C. Davis Chair in Biomedical Science;

Dr. Alvin C. Powers

“Each member of the supply chain has a responsibility to help solve this problem,” said Alvin C. Powers, MD, director of the Vanderbilt Diabetes Center at Vanderbilt University, who was speaking on behalf of the Endocrine Society during the April 2 hearing of the committee’s oversight & investigations subcommittee.

Dr. Powers identified all members – manufacturers, payers, pharmacy benefit managers, patients, providers, and Congress – as having a role in developing a solution that will encourage more access to the treatment.

The hearing was the first of two in a series specifically examining the price of insulin. This one focused on the role pricing issues play in terms of access to insulin and patient outcomes.

To highlight the pricing issues, it was noted that a vial of Humalog (insulin lispro) cost $21 when it was launched by Eli Lilly in 1996. It now costs $275 even though it has gone through no changes in formulation or innovation during that time.

Kasia Lipska, MD, of Yale University School of Medicine noted that a summer 2017 survey conducted by the Yale Diabetes Center found that one in four patients took less than the prescribed dose of insulin specifically because of the cost of insulin.


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