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Senators Shaheen, Collins Press United Healthcare, Anthem, and Aetna to Provide Additional Information on Insulin Pricing

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME), the Co-Chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, wrote to the three largest insurance companies—United Healthcare, Anthem, and Aetna—requesting information on insulin prices and rebates.  The Senators are seeking information regarding the role that insurance plans play in promoting affordable access to insulin products.  Over the past 10 years, the price of this lifesaving medication has increased by 240 percent.

“As Co-Chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, we are concerned about the skyrocketing prices of insulin products and the impact of these higher prices on individuals with diabetes,” Senators Shaheen and Shaheen wrote to the CEOs of United Healthcare, Anthem, and Aetna.  “More than seven million Americans use insulin as part of their daily treatment, and virtually all of those with Type 1 diabetes rely on it for survival.  Although insulin was first discovered nearly a century ago, manufacturers have raised prices by more than 240 percent in the last decade.   This shocking increase in price could place an essential diabetes treatment out of reach for some Americans, increasing the risk of complications including vision problems, nerve damage, heart disease, stroke, and premature death.”

“The number of Americans living with diabetes is expected to double by 2030 and related health care costs are expected to increase by more than fifty percent.  It has been estimated, however, that a 10 percent increase in medication compliance among patients with diabetes results in a 4 percent decrease in diabetes-related health care costs,” the Senators continued in their letter.  “Unfortunately, skyrocketing prescription drug prices continue to burden Americans, making access to needed therapies unaffordable.  A recent survey found that, because of cost, approximately 21 percent of Americans chose not to purchase a prescription drug in 2016.”

Senators Shaheen and Collins posed seven questions to each of the three insurance companies intended to help shed light on the opaque insulin supply chain and what insurance plans are doing to promote affordable access to this essential diabetes treatment.  The letter calls on the companies to provide a response no later than December 14, 2018.