Bill would allow lower priced insulin to be imported

Credit: By LISA RATHKE Associated Press
February 28, 2019 — 8:10pm

MONTPELIER, Vt. — As Congress grills drug companies about the high cost of prescription medications, U.S. Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont introduced legislation on Thursday that would allow for the importation of low cost insulin from Canada and other countries for people with diabetes.

The average price of insulin nearly tripled in the U.S. between 2002 and 2013, according to the American Diabetes Association. The price spike has led some diabetes patients to ration the drug or skip taking it, Welch said.

“Prices for insulin have gone through the roof and are hammering diabetes patients who cannot live without this life-saving medicine yet cannot afford to pay for it,” Welch, a Democrat, said in a written statement. “This commonsense legislation bypasses big Pharma’s pricing monopoly by making available to patients safe, lower-cost insulin.”

A 26-year-old Minnesota man died from diabetes complications in 2017 because he struggled to afford his insulin prescription, his family said. In Vermont, Elia Marquis, 39, who has type 1 diabetes, now pays $2,015 out-of-pocket a month for the drug until she meets her deductible, meaning she spends about $6,000 a year on insulin alone, on top of other medical expenses and higher premium health insurance.

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